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A novel way to massively improve the SQ of computer audio streaming

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Ok, MASSIVE is a bit of an overstatement at this level of high-end audio but now that I have your attention, I would say that this improvement is quite significant, nonetheless, and once you hear it, I suspect you will not wish to go back to your previous setup. More importantly, this is neither difficult nor expensive to implement.


Much has been said about how ethernet renderers like the microRendu and the sMS-200 are immune to upstream components. Because ethernet is transformer coupled, it is inherently galvanically isolated and because of the error correcting packet protocol it employs, data is always bit-perfect and so it would seem that ethernet is an ideal data delivery vehicle for a digital audio stream. Indeed, when I first purchased my microRendu back in May, I tested it with a variety of standard sources including a Windows NUC, Windows laptop, Mac Pro, Macbook Pro and sonicTransporter and even when a certain source was powered by my HDPlex, I noticed no significant difference among these sources, at least not enough to care which one was feeding my microRendu. I have also explored and compared a variety of ethernet optimization techniques including optical isolation with FMCs (powered by LPS-1), an audiophile switch with TCXO clock by Paul Pang (powered by LPS-1) and various audiophile ethernet cables (BJC CAT 6A, SOtM dCBL-CAT6 with iSO-CAT6, AQ Vodka + Diamond, Supra CAT8, WireWorld Silver Starlight CAT8) and while they can and do make a difference, even collectively, the difference has never been that great, certainly not enough to want to spend lots of effort or money on these things. At least that has been my experience and so this is a compliment to both the microRendu and the sMS-200, that they are that immune to what is upstream...or are they?


Like with many of you, things changed when I received my LPS-1 as this power supply was eye opening in how it transformed my microRendu. This should have come as no surprise as John Swenson had been telling us all along that the microRendu, as a low noise and low impedance device, benefits from a low noise and low impedance power supply. What I wasn't prepared to experience, however, was how a good low noise, low impedance power supply would also transform my upstream components including a simple NUC or Mac Mini even with the microRendu or sMS-200 in place (I own both of these units). It was surprising to find out that even my internet modem/router similarly benefited. It turns out that while ethernet is good for isolating noise, it cannot fix a signal already molested at the modem/router or music server level. In the same way that the LPS-1 improved both the macro and microdynamic capabilities of my microRendu, my Paul Hynes SR7 has also magically transformed my modified Mac Mini and internet modem/router and both the microRendu and sMS-200 fully reveal these benefits but truth be told, these benefits are much more fully realized if these endpoints themselves are powered by a low impedance PSU. This is not some mild transformation that you need to blind test to convince yourself is real, this is something a semi-deaf person can distinguish because the dynamic contrasts with the Paul Hynes SR7 driving both my Mac Mini and internet modem/router is that much more thunderous, enough so that I have had to literally turn my subwoofer down a notch. If you think about it, there's no good reason why this shouldn't be happening. The whole purpose of the microRendu or sMS-200 and devices like the USB Regen is to present a DAC with a signal of the highest integrity. Why wouldn't the microRendu or sMS-200 similarly benefit from being presented with high signal integrity by the components before it?


I have come to the conclusion that this impact has more to do with low impedance than the low noise characteristics of the power supply fronting these upstream devices because as you recall, ethernet is transformer coupled and so is inherently galvanically isolated and with the FMCs that I employ in my network (which are powered by my LPS-1), no RF noise or leakage current should be reaching my microRendu or sMS-200. What is the measured output impedance of the Paul Hynes SR7? According to Paul, his SR5 and SR7 measure <3 millohms from DC to 100kHz and so consider this number as a reference point for comparison. Having asked around, it seems no one else can provide these impedance measurements over what John Swenson describes to be his ideal frequency range either because they don't own the measuring equipment to do so or because they don't believe this spec is important. What I can tell you is that neither my HDPlex or Teradak are low impedance LPSUs because neither of these units are good enough to allow me to distinguish one source from another when fronted by either the microRendu or sMS-200 and both are soundly trounced by my LPS-1 and my SR7 when it comes to soundstage dimensionality. While I have not had the opportunity to compare the Sonore Signature Power Supply to either of these two units, based on what I am hearing from respected sources and conversations I have had with Barrows, I have no doubt this is an excellent and very low impedance PSU. Based on how good the LPS-1 is, logic would suggest Vinnie Rossi's ultracap-based supply is likely of similar caliber. The problem with these other supplies is that neither of them have enough juice to power a Mac Mini, Nuc or my TP-Link internet modem/router as each of these devices require at least 12V/3.5A.


Of course, this discovery led to quite a bit of curiosity about other areas. What would happen if I directly connected my Mac Mini to either my microRendu or sMS-200? Intuitively, I had a hard time believing this should make a difference. If so, why weren't the microRendu or sMS-200 designed by their wise creators to connect this way? I further had a difficult time believing my internet modem/router or my Paul Pang switch with TCXO clock should have any real detrimental impact on either of these endpoints since the modem/router was currently being powered by my Paul Hynes SR7 and my Paul Pang switch was being powered by my LPS-1 and moreover, I had optical isolation in place and yet Mark Jenkins, owner and developer of the Antipodes line of music servers, had this to say about his latest generation Roon Ready DX music server. This excerpt is taken from John Darko's review of this latest generation DX server:


"A third way to plumb Roon inside the DX is to have Roon Core talk to Roon Ready directly. Think of this scenario as Roon playing out the server-client model not on a LAN but inside a single computer.


Jenkins clarifies: "They [Roon Core and Roon Ready] talk using RAAT but when they are in the same device they do not need to use the not-so-good comms layers that sit underneath RAAT when the two apps talk across a network."

I'm not sure I know what Mark meant by this exactly but he details a greater clarity and immediacy to the sound of Roon using this method and so I felt compelled to try and create this direct connection between my Mac Mini and my microRendu/sMS-200. This wouldn't be so difficult if either device had the ability to assign itself a static IP. Unfortunately, this was never possible with the microRendu and this feature was taken away from the sMS-200 after firmware 1.9 and because each device must be assigned an IP address by a router for control purposes, it didn't appear as if there would be an easy way to accomplish this.


It turns out OSX can function as its own DHCP server and so I used El Capitan to assign an IP address to one of the two ethernet ports I have on my Mac Mini (the Mac Mini comes natively with only one ethernet port but my Thunderbolt hub comes with its own ethernet port thereby giving me two such ports). I connected my sMS-200 to one port and my router to the other port and it worked but there were problems. Because OSX insisted on connecting this second port on a separate subnet, my sMS-200 had no outlet to the internet (for Tidal streaming) nor could it be controlled remotely by my iPad and so this was a "no go." When I manually forced both ports to be on the same subnet, my Mac Mini would get confused as to which ethernet port had control and it would lock up. It then dawned on me that I could bridge the two ethernet ports and BINGO! This accomplished exactly what I wanted to accomplish. Both ethernet ports were now on the same subnet and with one port connected directly to my sMS-200 and the other port connected directly to my router, everything was running smoothly. I could now easily access the sMS-200 remotely from my iPad and other machines that were on the network and the sMS-200 could access the internet. While I have not yet tried my microRendu this way (it is presently on loan), I don't see why it wouldn't work the same way. What is interesting is with this bridged configuration, my internet modem/router is now responsible for assigning the sMS-200 an IP address and yet the sMS-200 is physically directly connected to my Mac Mini without the intermediary "not so good comm layers" that Mark Jenkins describes.


So how does this direct connection sound? Simply glorious! While a low impedance power supply brings depth and dynamics to my upstream components, this direct connection brings amazing clarity and immediacy. It's as if one very thick veil has been removed and that my seat has been upgraded from the balcony to the stalls. I would rate the impact of this as equivalent in magnitude to employing a low impedance PSU. Many of you are aware of the claims many are making on several threads here on CA but also on HeadFi of how RedNet and Dante provides this "you are there" clarity. I had a ReNet 3 in my home for evaluation for nearly a month and I agree, it provides this beguiling sense of clarity that has to be heard to be appreciated although the problem with RedNet, I believe, is its inferior switching PSU. These units sound flat and dimensionless compared to my described setup above and so this clarity that RedNet brings almost sounds sterile and lifeless in comparison. Regardless, proponents of RedNet have suggested the problem with USB endpoints like the microRendu and sMS-200 is with USB. What I am hearing suggests USB is not the problem but perhaps the Dante technology by Audinate that RedNet utilizes has figured out how to eliminate the impact of these "not so good comms" in the network signal path. I have now been listening to this arrangement for much of the past week and so the initial emotions that can cloud one's judgement have settled down and my opinion remains the same as the first moment I heard it. To borrow from Chris Connaker, after all of this, I can unequivocally say that my audio system has never sounded better than it has now. For me, there is no going back.


For those interested in reproducing what I have done, first of all, you will need a music server with 2 ethernet ports. Current Mac Pros already have 2 ethernet ports. Mac Minis do not but I can verify that you can add a Thunderbolt ethernet port and it works very well. Many Windows PCs have 2 ethernet ports and if not, if you have a spare PCI or PCIE slot, you could inexpensively add one. Will a USB ethernet connection work? I don't see why not but I haven't tried it and I don't know how it will sound. I do know that you can't bridge a wi-fi connection and an ethernet connection.


So how do you bridge 2 ethernet ports? If you are on Linux, I can't help you but I'm sure it's possible. If you are on a Mac, here are the fairly simple instructions that I followed. Feel free to use DHCP but you are also free to assign a static IP:




For Windows, @jelt2359 has confirmed for me that the following directions below worked on his Windows 10 Nuc although he had to manually configure the bridge's DNS and IP addresses.


How to create a Network Bridge in Windows 10/8/7


Obviously, if you decide to try this, please report back your findings here. If there is consensus that this improvement is universal, perhaps Sonore and SOtM can be convinced to allow their units to be configured to be directly accessed more easily.


Thanks for this great and informative post. I like reading such posts that bring new insights to our hobby.



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Would be nice to see a renderer (like mRendu) that doesn't require any router connection. Maybe two ethernet inputs? Or just one if it could input data and controls?

Must be a way to simplify this process and yet gain the benefits of the audiophile renderer without all the networking headaches?


Does such a device exist today with the SQ quality/format versatility of the mRendu or Sms-200? Although video/hires streaming remains a problem? Thus I remain in the USB only universe.


I want to know as well :)



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  • 1 month later...
BTW - I had an email back from May on some questions and she gave me two nuggets of info:



  1. the sMS-200 Ultra's SQ is improved significantly in their own listening tests by adding the tX-USB Ultra in series. Obviously, we'll need to validate that in the community, but @romaz 's findings with the dX-USB HD (with sCLK-EX clocking) certainly support this.
  2. She doesn't have the exact specs finalized, but she thinks the sMS-200 Ultra will require at least 1.5A (this is not an official number, so don't hold me to this) - which means we may have to look at other PSes than the LPS-1 to power it. It will be interesting to see what their upcoming sPS-500 PS really is, and whether it is ultracapacitor based. She could not share any details yet.


Interesting times, If there is an SMS 200 ultra coming soon, then I am sure that Sonore is cooking a new beefed up microrendu as well.



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I have heard (but not compared) Vinnie's Mini Pure 4EVR ultracap-based PSU powering an mR and I very much liked what I heard. I'm sure it compares favorably against the LPS-1 at 7V and as you stated, it outputs more current (2.5A continuous) and can be ordered at higher voltage outputs (3.3-12V).


It may have higher output impedance than the LPS-1, however (this is my own conjecture), and for sure, it will have higher output impedance than a Paul Hynes supply. This is based on published reports that the ultracaps Vinnie uses in his LIO each output 2.7V with an impedance of 2 milliohms per ultracap. If he is using the same ultracaps in his mini, that would mean he is using 5 ultracaps per bank (which would generate 13.5V) and then he down-regulates to the desired voltage. With 5 ultracaps at 2 milliohms of impedance each, that would equate to 10 milliohms of impedance for his mini (over what frequency spectrum is unknown). While this is very good and better than most, it is more than triple the output impedance of Paul Hynes' supplies (<3 milliohms from DC to 100kHz).


Vinnie charges about $1k for his mini which is about the same price as a Paul Hynes SR7 with a single rail. You could say that as an ultra-cap PSU, the mini will have the advantage of having no leakage current. In my own experience comparing the LPS-1 against the SR7, as many know, I had not found this to be an issue and I had assumed it was due to my Chord DAVE's excellent galvanic isolation but in fact, this is what Paul shared with me just yesterday:


"A point worth clarifying is that only the power supply chassis are

grounded for safety reasons. All the supply rails are galvanically

isolated from each other and the rails are totally floating with respect

to earth until connected to the equipment to be powered. Each power

supply rail takes then its ground reference from the equipment under

power. This completely avoids any power supply generated ground loops

and the resulting inter-modulation distortions that ground loops can


Regardless, your point is well taken. To do this new clock justice, you will need to factor in the cost of a good supply.


On a separate note, for those who benefit from an Intona and are interested in buying a single device with SOtM's superclock, the question has been raised about whether a tX-USB Ultra (to follow the Intona) might be a better purchase than an sMS-200 Ultra? This certainly would be my guess as well. I think you want your very best clock at the end.


Your argument makes sense to me that the best clock should be at the end. I am looking for ways to simplify my usb chain. Maybe the tX-USB Ultra is the way to go, do you have any idea when it will be out?


Also the new mystery product that Alex from uptone audio will announce in a week or so is interesting as well



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  • 1 month later...
1 hour ago, austinpop said:


Agreed, the pricing for these Ultra products is rather high.


The same thought occurred to me, and I asked May - why not offer the sCLK-EX board in a chassis as a master clock, and enable components like the sMS-200 and the tX-USB to accept a master clock input. 

She replied that they're considering it, but there are complexities - which I quite believe!


For now, we will just have to see what kind of SQ improvement people experience with the Ultra products, and decide if it's worth the premium cost.


Yes the price of the tX-USBultra is rather steep, but if it proves to be a worthwhile upgrade to my system, then I will sell my LPS-1, RUR, Curious Regen link and intona Industrial and use the rail on my JS-2 that I currently use to energize the LPS-1. So I don't think I will be paying anything from my pocket at the end. At least this is my wishful thinking :)

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28 minutes ago, austinpop said:


As @romaz said - you may be able to use the LPS-1 to power the tX-USBultra, depending on the current draw. Does you Brooklyn need VBUS at all? If not, then you may well be OK with using the LPS-1. No need to even bring in the JS-2.

The Brooklyn needs the VBUS and I have the VR MINI 12v so I will go for the 12v option to try it with the VR. This puts the LPS-1 out as it has a max voltage of 7v

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  • 2 weeks later...
1 hour ago, greenleo said:

I would call it the best balance SOTM found or taken.  I am not defending SOTM but taking any assembled components, like a CAS, has to achieve lots of things and has intended systems for application as well.  Hence balancing becomes very important.  Suppose your DAC is galvinic isolated, then let go of the galvinic isolation becomes a better strategy and if better SQ is provided, then the product wins.  "The primary goal of stopping leakage current ….." may not be that important in some system, then the product wins.


We don't have a product that is "perfect" in terms of it sounds better in EVERY system, size small enough so that it may be applied in every system AND is the cheapest.  If so, other product products will become obsolete.


Finally, I agree with the statement "SOTM couldn't control ..." and I am saying this is not necessarily a bad thing.  At the end only SQ ccounts.


My 2 cents.

Agree with your argument, SQ is the ultimate goal, doesn't matter much how to get there with or without GI. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
21 minutes ago, hols said:

Hi Ted,


I did try using the Ultra on the path before it goes to the Singxer the improvement is not great. Previosuly I2S has a very accurate feel and dynamics is much better compared to USB alone. Now the end result of USB using Ultra direct to Holo is similar to I2S with Ultra added to USB path before going to Singxer and then Holo.  Soundstage, dynamics, musicality all comparable.

 My interpretation is that the improvement of Ultra is so big that the previous big advantage of the I2S route now appears not significant. On the one hand I agree with you that the Singxer did a good job with 1/3 of the price yet viewed from another angle it seems that there is no more need to further explore the I2S route?

Further answers to other questions is my Singxer is not modified with LPS . I have an Uptone regen too and when compared to Ultra seems more like a 'toy'(don't mean to deprecate its value). Even after adding the Intona the difference is still huge. I have ordered Iso regen too. 


And answer to Elviacaprice's question is mine is iPower 9v2A as marked clearly on the power supply not 1.5A. But I don't know why it actually cannot charge the Ultracap fast enough.

@Hols, I also had similar results in  my system. The tX-USBultra replaced both the Intona and RUR and I never looked back for a second. My tX is the 12V version.

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1 hour ago, austinpop said:


Hmm, I've hit a snag similar to @hols


Here is an excerpt of the note I've sent to May. Since it's night time in Korea, I'm hoping to hear back tonight.


The glitch I am seeing is that the music stream pauses. Within 2 secs, I can resume it, by hitting play. This happens in both Roon Ready and DLNA modes. Based on this, I formed some possible theories:
  1. The problem does not cause either the sMS or the tX to reboot, as they take longer than 2 secs to come back up
  2. Perhaps the switch is malfunctioning. Experiment 1: take switch out of the loop.
  3. Perhaps the tX has an instantaneous current surge that the PS cannot handle, but not enough to reset the unit. Experiment 2: vary the PSUs for the tX.
  1. Experiment 1: no difference. Even without the switch in the path, within a few minutes of start, the pause still happens
  2. Experiment 2: So far, I have tried the following PSUs on the tX-USBultra:
    • Uptone LPS-1: 7V/1.1A
    • Breeze Audio Chinese LPS: 7.5V/30W (based on R30 core). Nominally it is 9V, but I had reduced it to 7.5V for a previous use.
    • Stock 9V/2A SMPS included with the tX unit
    • HDPlex 100, which can put out 9V/5A at least.
The problem still persists with all of these. This is a real mystery.
The only other things I can think of are:
  • Software bug in 3.7 firmware - which is unrelated to my hardware, so others should be reporting this, or
  • Some fault in my equipment.

I really hope it is not a side effect of the external clock mods. I really do not want to ship all this back, but may have to. :$

I am sorry that you have this issue :( I know it can very disappointing. In my case I have never had any issue with my tX which is the 12v version and I use it with JS-2. 

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12 minutes ago, austinpop said:


Hi @tapatrick


That is most interesting. What versions of Roon are you on? My setup has the following versions:

  1. Roon Core: Build 223
  2. Roon app (iOS, W10, Mac): Build 223
  3. Roon Ready on sMS-200: 1.1.16
  4. sMS-200: v-0.3.7

Also, I found this on the SOtM site: https://www.sotm-audio.com/sotmwp/english/portfolio-item/sms-200/#toggle-id-6


Based on this, I upped the Buffer Duration and Resync Delay on the Roon Ready config to 0.1 and 0.5 respectively (the max values). I also added a Resync Delay of 2000ms in the device settings from the Roon Core side.


None of these helped.


What is even more peculiar is that whereas previously, my failure case was a momentary pause, from which I could resume by hitting Play again, today the sMS-200 disappears completely from the Roon GUI. I see the "select audio zone" button, and the only way to recover is to restart my Ultra stack.


Very peculiar.

I feel your pain Rajiv! I hate network related issues. I am happy that I have a simple solution PC to Dac via USB :)

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26 minutes ago, austinpop said:

I can hardly believe that such SQ differences can be found within the digital domain

Thanks for a great review and especially for encouraging me to try listening to some classical pieces. I have almost zero classical music, the only exception is Beethoven Symphony 5  (DXD).

I also reached the same conclusion that there are massive improvements to be harvested in the digital domain both at the hardware and software level. Often these improvements can be achieved with no investment or with modest investments. Of course, the latest tweaks by SOTM are relatively expensive and don't meet this criteria but the boost in SQ is worth it to me.

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59 minutes ago, austinpop said:

in favor of "no Intona."

I found the same as well. I concluded that the intona was good when our chain was at a lower level. Now with the Sotm new clock, the intona just takes away the magic. 

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Very interesting findings @austinpop, happy that the ultra trifecta works so well for you.

34 minutes ago, austinpop said:

This does not bode well for the ISO-Regen in the path as well, but it will be most interesting to see how this pans out with Roy's and @mozes's experiments.

In my system, I expect that the ISO-Regen will make a positive impact as I don't have the SOTM clock in front of it. In my chain, I only have the tX with the sCLK-EX, so probably there is more potential for the ISO-Regen than in my system.


Do you connect the SMS-200 ultra directly as recommended in this thread, if this is the case then the switch is adding a lot of improvement even in the direct mode


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9 hours ago, romaz said:

The question remains whether straight USB can sound just as good.

in a pure USB path, I am also intrigued by the outcome of having two tX-USBultra in series although not a very good value!

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45 minutes ago, austinpop said:


I'm not sure it's an either-or. My goal is to eat my cake (local files) and have it too (Tidal). Dream big! Go west, young man!


Hmm, well, not sure what that means. Too much Talisker.

I am eating my cake now yummy :)

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12 minutes ago, limniscate said:

The clock has four taps. @austinpop sent them his sMS-200 and a switch to hardwire to the tX-USB Ultra, but apparently, they have a cleaner method now, as shown earlier in this thread, where they put connectors on the outside of the chassis so one can disconnect the cables.

Exactly and it looks like this

SMB connection_1.jpg

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