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

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On 5/4/2017 at 10:54 AM, austinpop said:

Sorry - not an option. May has mentioned to me that they don't mod other audio manufacturers' equipment. They are fine modding non-audio devices like switches etc. I had asked about modding an Intona (pre-ISO-Regen days).

1

 

You do have the option of buying an sCLK-EX board, specifying the frequencies that you need and then replacing the clock on any device of your choosing on your own.

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21 hours ago, tboooe said:

$500 is pretty steep for the Adnaco in my opinion.  Has anyone compared it to either a PC acting as NAA or the SM-200 or microrendu?  I would be certainly willing to spend $500 if its at least as good as any of the devices I listed.

 

 

It could be a lot more expensive than $500 depending on how far you want to go with it.

 

Without an enclosure or PSU, Adnaco is charging me $300 + $40 shipping.  To upgrade to single mode, it is an extra $80.  Fortunately, optical cables are cheap (around $10).

 

If you want to replace 3 clocks using an sCLK-EX board, this will cost about $900.  To have SOtM replace both of the switching regulators with their own linear regulators will cost another $100.

 

I am eyeing the Streacom F1CWS Evo chassis to store both the Adnaco transceiver board and SotM clock board which runs about $100.

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20 hours 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.
Results:
  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. :$

 

 

Sorry to hear of your problems, Rajiv.  Once I figured out how to properly power my dX-USB HDultra, everything has run smoothly.  When I was first having problems, I opened everything up and the quality of workmanship I saw was first rate.  Have you tried opening up your tX-USBultra just to make sure nothing is loose?  I'm confident SOtM tested the functionality of your setup before they shipped it out to you and so if you are using the same firmware that your unit shipped with, I doubt this would be the problem unless the there is some compatibility issue between this firmware and your DAC.  Have you tried a different DAC?

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4 hours ago, ElviaCaprice said:

Roy, is Adnaco doing the mods for you?  Meaning removing the clocks?  When asking sotm for the sclk-ex board, what exact clocks are you asking for, for the Adnaco? 

 

 

 

My contact (Igor) at Adnaco has been extremely helpful and informative.  Because they designed and build this unit themselves, they know every aspect of it but in their words, they are "overloaded and do not have time" to help me modify it.  Of interest, while this unit was not designed with high-end audio in mind, they do have experience in this field as they manufacture the JCAT Femto USB card for Marcin at JPLAY and so when I first got into a discussion about replacing clocks and regulators, Igor knew exactly what I was trying to accomplish and supportive of my efforts even though he had some doubts.

 

SOtM has agreed to do the clock mod for me.  They make their own regulators but I am pushing for Paul Hynes to provide me his.  Paul has provided his regulator designs for other components such as the M2Tech HiFace Evo and Empirical Audio Off Ramp 5 to great acclaim and given how transformative my SR7 has been in my own system, if Paul can come through for me, it gives me reason to believe this could be my very best endpoint option.

 

The good news is that Paul has already ordered an Adnaco S3B for testing and plans to design a custom power supply for this unit.  We'll see where it leads.

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1 hour ago, Johnseye said:

 

 

There is that.  They are also selling a product which other than being a filter provides an opportunity to separate the PC/server from the rest of the equipment.  This is a huge benefit for some people, but if you take that away, the mR is only a filter.

 

 

They could be seen as filters but I see them more as low impedance isolation devices.

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1 minute ago, romaz said:

 

They could be seen as filters but I see them more as low impedance isolation devices.

 

Corrected for more accurate terminology. ;)

 

There is that.  They are also selling a product which other than being a filter provides an opportunity to separate the PC/server from the rest of the equipment.  This is a huge benefit for some people, but if you take that away, the mR is only a low impedance isolation device.

 

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11 minutes ago, romaz said:

 

My contact (Igor) at Adnaco has been extremely helpful and informative.  Because they designed and build this unit themselves, they know every aspect of it but in their words, they are "overloaded and do not have time" to help me modify it.  Of interest, while this unit was not designed with high-end audio in mind, they do have experience in this field as they manufacture the JCAT Femto USB card for Marcin at JPLAY and so when I first got into a discussion about replacing clocks and regulators, Igor knew exactly what I was trying to accomplish and supportive of my efforts even though he had some doubts.

 

SOtM has agreed to do the clock mod for me.  They make their own regulators but I am pushing for Paul Hynes to provide me his.  Paul has provided his regulator designs for other components such as the M2Tech HiFace Evo and Empirical Audio Off Ramp 5 to great acclaim and given how transformative my SR7 has been in my own system, if Paul can come through for me, it gives me reason to believe this could be my very best endpoint option.

 

The good news is that Paul has already ordered an Adnaco S3B for testing and plans to design a custom power supply for this unit.  We'll see where it leads.

That is great news, would give me an extra incentive to order one of his famed SR-7's, I shall await your further findings.

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1 hour ago, romaz said:

 

Sorry to hear of your problems, Rajiv.  Once I figured out how to properly power my dX-USB HDultra, everything has run smoothly.  When I was first having problems, I opened everything up and the quality of workmanship I saw was first rate.  Have you tried opening up your tX-USBultra just to make sure nothing is loose?  I'm confident SOtM tested the functionality of your setup before they shipped it out to you and so if you are using the same firmware that your unit shipped with, I doubt this would be the problem unless the there is some compatibility issue between this firmware and your DAC.  Have you tried a different DAC?

 

Hi Roy,

 

Yes, they tested for at least a week before sending it back, so whatever it is, it must be elusive.

 

I'm very leery of opening up the cases, especially with the clock wires to watch. I'll do it as a last resort, but first want to eliminate other hypotheses. As I said, everything works great, except for these pauses every few minutes.

 

Regarding firmware, I'm sure I was at v3.6 when I sent it in, since 3.7 came out while it was with them.

 

Sad to say, I have no alternate DACs to try... but hang on, I could use my AQ Dragonfly Black. OK - I will add this to the list to try...

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8 minutes ago, austinpop said:

 

Hi Roy,

 

Yes, they tested for at least a week before sending it back, so whatever it is, it must be elusive.

 

I'm very leery of opening up the cases, especially with the clock wires to watch. I'll do it as a last resort, but first want to eliminate other hypotheses. As I said, everything works great, except for these pauses every few minutes.

 

Regarding firmware, I'm sure I was at v3.6 when I sent it in, since 3.7 came out while it was with them.

 

Sad to say, I have no alternate DACs to try... but hang on, I could use my AQ Dragonfly Black. OK - I will add this to the list to try...

 

Absolutely no harm will come to opening the chassis.  In fact, I'm fairly certain SOtM will ask you to do it as they asked me to do the same.  

 

Also, the clock cables are sturdier than you think.

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On 5/4/2017 at 4:10 AM, hols said:

It's great that you experiment with the Adnaco too. We have used the Adnaco 5 years or so ago and was probably the first few audiophiles who used Adnaco for electrical isolation. At that time we used RME soundcard on the PCIe  slots and the result is very impressive. Single mode fibre system sounded better than multi mode fibres (This is a bit different from the observations in the other users of FMCs  here in CA) and good optical fibres also give better results. We have also tried USB cards on PCIe slots but it does not always work especially with USB3. This might be related to compatibility issues of the USB card with Linux. It would be interesting to learn the results of your experiments.

 

11 minutes ago, romaz said:

 

Thanks for this, hols.  I have modified my order for single mode instead of multimode.  Unfortunately, this cost me $80 more.  Optical fiber comes cheaply (about $10 for 1 meter) but it's hard to tell what's good and what's not.

 

I suspect this is is related to either the diodes, SFPs or the ethernet clocks.  Here's an interesting bit of info for what it's worth.  Roy, your findings on ethernet cables have me wondering how much impact the ethernet clocks are having on the sound.  The FMCs could have low quality LED emitters instead of laser.  The optical detectors themselves introduce distortion and noise.  Depending on whether it's an avalanche photodiode or PIN diode there will be a significant difference in their S/N ratio and thus noise floor.  If an integrated detector/preamplifier or IPD is used there's an even better S/N ratio.  There's also the possibility of crosstalk with copper ethernet.

 

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53 minutes ago, romaz said:

 

Absolutely no harm will come to opening the chassis.  In fact, I'm fairly certain SOtM will ask you to do it as they asked me to do the same.  

 

Also, the clock cables are sturdier than you think.

 

Understood. 

 

BTW - it's definitely the modded sMS-200. I just ran it direct USB to the DAC, although the tX-USBultra was of course providing the clock. Even in this use case, the problem persists. It's as if the Roon Core momentarily loses contact with the endpoint (sMS-200), and thus stops the stream.

 

Will keep you posted, as the earliest I'll hear from SOtM is in 48 hours (their Monday morning).

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35 minutes ago, austinpop said:

 

Understood. 

 

BTW - it's definitely the modded sMS-200. I just ran it direct USB to the DAC, although the tX-USBultra was of course providing the clock. Even in this use case, the problem persists. It's as if the Roon Core momentarily loses contact with the endpoint (sMS-200), and thus stops the stream.

 

Will keep you posted, as the earliest I'll hear from SOtM is in 48 hours (their Monday morning).

 

It's good you figured this out.  Definitely open up the sMS-200.  Even if you don't see anything wrong, take some pictures so that SOtM can inspect them.  

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19 hours ago, austinpop said:

 

Understood. 

 

BTW - it's definitely the modded sMS-200. I just ran it direct USB to the DAC, although the tX-USBultra was of course providing the clock. Even in this use case, the problem persists. It's as if the Roon Core momentarily loses contact with the endpoint (sMS-200), and thus stops the stream.

 

Will keep you posted, as the earliest I'll hear from SOtM is in 48 hours (their Monday morning).

 

 

Austinpop

interesting to hear your problems as I'm having similar issue with irregular stops in playback. Sometimes this is maddening and other times it's only a few times a day.  

 

I have different set up from you but wondering if there are similarities causing the issue. I have an Antipodes DXe >data only USB out> To Wavio USB to Spdif converter board with the 5v supplied by LPS-1>Aqua La Voce DAC. Sound is stunning as Wavio has great isolation, clock and high quality components. 

 

I have been trying to pin down where the problem lies which is not easy. Initially thought it was a network or Tidal issue but now seems to lie either with corrupt Antipodes software or Roon core glitch. Currently having my music server diagnosed. 

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2 hours ago, tapatrick said:

 

 

Austinpop

interesting to hear your problems as I'm having similar issue with irregular stops in playback. Sometimes this is maddening and other times it's only a few times a day.  

 

I have different set up from you but wondering if there are similarities causing the issue. I have an Antipodes DXe >data only USB out> To Wavio USB to Spdif converter board with the 5v supplied by LPS-1>Aqua La Voce DAC. Sound is stunning as Wavio has great isolation, clock and high quality components. 

 

I have been trying to pin down where the problem lies which is not easy. Initially thought it was a network or Tidal issue but now seems to lie either with corrupt Antipodes software or Roon core glitch. Currently having my music server diagnosed. 

 

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.

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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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1 hour 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 think it might be sMS-200: v-0.3.7. 

My system has been very stable running Daphile until I upgraded the firmware. 

Exactly the same issue with erratic pauses in play. Sometimes play would restart after a few seconds; sometimes I needed to reboot the sMS-200. 

It is not my network because I play files for a locally attached USB ssd and use a direct Ethernet connection from my Macmini to SMS-200. 

If you made a backup of the SD CARD in SMS-200 before the upgrade you could perhaps revert to v-0.3.6 and see if the problem resolves. 

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7 minutes ago, HeeBroG said:

I think it might be sMS-200: v-0.3.7. 

My system has been very stable running Daphile until I upgraded the firmware. 

Exactly the same issue with erratic pauses in play. Sometimes play would restart after a few seconds; sometimes I needed to reboot the sMS-200. 

It is not my network because I play files for a locally attached USB ssd and use a direct Ethernet connection from my Macmini to SMS-200. 

If you made a backup of the SD CARD in SMS-200 before the upgrade you could perhaps revert to v-0.3.6 and see if the problem resolves. 

 

Ahhh - very interesting!

 

Sadly I did not think to make a backup of 3.6. Actually, I think SOtM upgraded my unit to 3.7 while it was with them. For future reference - anybody have instructions on how to make a backup of the sMS-200 SD Card?

 

BTW - I would love for this to be a software issue. Those can be fixed without shipping my units back to Korea!

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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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On 15/02/2017 at 11:34 PM, gadgetman said:

In system setup menu tap the middle icon which looks like a pointer going from left to right then goes straight up.

 

If you plan to roll back to your current version you better make a backup copy before doing software upgrade. You can use Win32 Disk Imager to do the job. It's totally free.

 

Edited by HeeBroG
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59 minutes ago, austinpop said:

 

Ahhh - very interesting!

 

Sadly I did not think to make a backup of 3.6. Actually, I think SOtM upgraded my unit to 3.7 while it was with them. For future reference - anybody have instructions on how to make a backup of the sMS-200 SD Card?

 

BTW - I would love for this to be a software issue. Those can be fixed without shipping my units back to Korea!

On 15/02/2017 at 11:34 PM, gadgetman said:

In system setup menu tap the middle icon which looks like a pointer going from left to right then goes straight up.

 

If you plan to roll back to your current version you better make a backup copy before doing software upgrade. You can use Win32 Disk Imager to do the job. It's totally free.

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3 minutes ago, mozes said:

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.

 

Thanks!

 

Most of the pieces I referenced are readily  accessed on Tidal, so feel free to try them out.

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8 hours 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.

Hi @austinpop

 

Yes very peculiar. I'm also on the latest Roon core and control build 233, and would say my problems started with version 1.3.

 

Thanks for the info. I also increased the sync buffers in Roon but likewise it did not seem to help. When I get my DXe back I will check all those settings out in case I missed anything. 

 

I get exactly the same errors as you i.e. loss of endpoint (Wavio board), pauses - then starts again on pressing play after a few seconds. Occasionally Roon also reverts to "select audio zone" and I have to reboot. Sometimes frustratingly this has taken several reboots which Roon support thought indicated a network problem. 

 

While I'm waiting for return of my DXe I'm running Roon on MacBook Pro straight to DAC (without Wavio) - very stable but no comparison SQ wise and indicates it's not a network issue. 

 

Hope you get it solved.  I'm determined to get to the bottom of this as the sound when it works is mesmerising. Also have an ISO Regen on order to compare and possible solve. 

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I'm late to the party here and I am just now trying to direct link my uRendu with my Mac Mini.

 

I am having difficulties though and I think I did something wrong in my Network and interfaces setup. I'm running El Capitan and I read through the instructions provided by @romaz and @Superdad and others, but I still cannot seem to get my Thunderbolt bridge to connect to my network.

 

I have the ethernet port going directly to the uRendu and it shows as connected, and I have the Thunderbolt adapter connected to an ethernet cable that connects to my network. And that is the one that is I am not able to get to connect.

 

I've tried deleting the new virtual interface I created and re-doing it, restarting the Mini with no luck.  I can't seem to figure out what step I missed. Attached are some screenshots. Can anyone think of what I'm missing?

 

Thanks!

 

P.S. This thread is incredible! I've been following along and reading all the great tips, advice and suggestions people have contributed, but I never got around to direct connecting my uRendu to my Mac.

Screen Shot 2017-05-07 at 9.51.05 AM.png

Screen Shot 2017-05-07 at 9.50.31 AM.png

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