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Innuos Zenith Mk3 or OpticalRendu + separate server?

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There are people with all in one servers solutions and people with a server and endpoint solution. Clearly Sonore's approach is the latter. In our solution we are trying to keep things as simple as possible so you can use a regular computer or NAS as a server. In the all in one the emphasis is in improving off the shelf hardware. In our solution the emphasis is on a well designed endpoint that doesn't need improvement. There are going to be people on both sides of this argument...to each his own!  

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25 minutes ago, Blackmorec said:

I have to say that I disagree with your summary. The ‘one box’ servers I’ve had experience with, namely from the Innuos range have been extremely well designed and optimised,  offer SOTA sound, and are extremely easy to use, requiring neither regular computer nor NAS.  Practically any device these days uses off-the-shelf parts, as no audio companies manufacture SSDs, CD drives, memory chips, oscillators etc. 

I'm sure your happy with it..no argument there. To me they are no different than the line products from Small Green Computer which offer the same functionality at a much lower price point. I have no issue with people using them and just prefer a different approach. The main board on the Rendu series is custom built for the task with no extra unused components not related to audio. People already have a computer or a NAS in their homes and the point of the Rendu series is to utilize them as servers. Personally, I'm either streaming Tidal or Qobuz without the need for a computer or using my Synology NAS as a server. Either way the electrically noisy and acoustically noisy drives are elsewhere away from my audio room.       

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Just now, BigAlMc said:

 

Sorry Jesus but this is either a naive comment or an uninformed one.

 

I went from the Audiostore Prestige 2 (Martin Smiths version of Andrew Gillis  Small Green Computers server) to an Innuos Zenith MKII and the difference was night and day. The Zenith is far superior. The Zenith SE is even better still.

 

Cheers,

Alan

I never questioned your perception. As discussed I don't use SGC servers for local playback only as streamers. I also don't make those products or support them directly in the manufacturing of them. Martin is indepently making those units and licensing Sonic Orbiter from SGC. I do contribute to the Sonic Orbiter project because it's a vital part of the Rendu system. BTW SGC also licenced software to Innuos in the past so don't think I'm against them. They have their solution and we have ours. Anyway, all off the shelf hardware aside and the use of similar Linux Operating systems the only difference IMHO is the power supply and the price. I don't sell servers so take my input as an outsider looking in.    

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Also, Barrows is a sub-contractor to Sonore so his opinions are his own. I value his opinion though and he has samples of the opticalRendu boards so he has heard them and compared them to the entire Rendu series. As for putting the money on the table I think we have put a lot of money on the table:)We are happy to do this because we are passionate and proud about our solutions. I also don't see the Rendu series as "decrapifiers". They are just purpose built endpoints or renderers designed with audiophile inspirations. Anyway, I don't go around calling our gear the "endgame" solution like I read so many people here professing they have discovered. Instead the opticalRendu will be reviewed by our customers and they will tell us what they think in a public forum no less. Chris also reviewed the opticalRendu and said, "it was the best Rendu Sonore has ever made." Emphasis on the word "made" because we didn't by parts on NewEgg and just assemble these. 

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1 minute ago, BigAlMc said:

"I just take issue with this 'your server doesn't matter because my science says so', mantra."

I never said that. However, I don't think they matter as used with our Rendu series. The server is far away from the audio room and isolated from the Rendu via the network. Some times over cable ethernet, some times over wireless Ethernet or some times over optical Ethernet. From memory...Chris reviewed the microRendu over cable ethernet and stated then he could hear a difference with our suggested configuration using DLNA. Your point of reference is with a server directly attached to the USB device where I do think I matters a lot and hence the reason to not connect things that way:) Again just my opinion and your are free to enjoy whatever you think sounds best in your system. I also appreciate your support even if it's through Martin who is a great industry member and a top Sonore dealer and support center.  

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I know what thread you have been hanging out in...LOL. I even have a strong opinion about this connection scheme, but no worries we will be addressing that connection scheme very soon;)

 

I have to take your perception on face value though because I have multiple customers on all sides of this argument. Some like the USB input, some like the LVDS i2s input, some like the Ethernet input, and some can't decide. Each one has it's merits (pro and con) and its really hard to compare them. It can be anything that drives the opinions one way or the other. I don't try to understand why or convince people one is better than the other even though we know this DAC very well.  

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In one of posts above you said this referring to Barrows, "You've preached the theoretical benefits of the microRendu for two years now but many peoples EXPERIENCE has led them to move onto better solutions." This is an opinion or conclusion formed on the basis of incomplete information. I'm sure some have and you may have. However, I have access to the back end data from the usage of www.sonicorbiter.com and the data suggests otherwise. If I just take a multi day snap shot of the units online for the microRendu product its usage is actually quite high. Another indicator is the number of people who have updated their units to the most current version of SonicOrbiter. These indicators and more suggest that the microRendu is still being enjoyed by many no matter what some vocal few suggest.   

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32 minutes ago, BigAlMc said:

 

People sell the MicroRendu when they move on. I did

The second hand demand is pretty strong which is a complimentary reflection on your product.

 

But the number of MicroRendus still in use doesn't rule out that many people moved onwards to something else in search of higher SQ or some other functionality.

I could say the same thing about any product...including yours. People here have reporting moving on from it to a NUC:) Howerver, I would not use that fact as an argument about the products relavency because it means absolutely nothing.

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38 minutes ago, Summit said:

Sonore has claimed that nothing upstream of their renderer make any difference for years whereas many people can hear a clear difference between switchers, servers, software and cables. Not many, if anyone, have had the chance to hear the new OpticalRendu and compare it to the Innuos Zenith Mk3, so the whole debate is kind of meaningless IMO.

“Nothing” is to strong a word. It’s my opinion that the software can matter because some can resample and some have very good algorithms. On the other hand I have measured some of the proposed network tweaks and found nothing compelling about them and when I posted my findings you guys want nothing to do with it. My network is the least optimized here and my server is an unoptimsed Synology NAS with switching supply and 5 spinning drives. My apologies, but I personally don’t need an expensive server to get stunning results. 

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I’m going to say this about the microRendu and then In going to have breakfast.

 

I had the microRendu measured by an industry friend as a favor even though I can measure it just fine here. Anyway, I sent the Rendu to him because his DAC has a very low noise floor. The microRendu was measured with a SMPS and a battery supply feeding the DAC in order to compare contrasting results with different power supplies. Clearly the power supply matters as I have been saying since before the launch of the microRendu. The data shows that with a clean power supply or balanced outputs on the DAC that the microRendu is not a noise bottleneck in a system. This is why I have no reservations recommending a microRendu for any system at any price point over an expensive server. 

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1 hour ago, BigAlMc said:

 

What endpoint or renderer are you using currently?

 

Cheers,

Alan

I currently have two in my system.

1. microRendu with a Sonore toneDAC under test into my integrated AMP.

2. Signature Rendu SE with opticalRendu board with a custom built Buffalo SE DAC into my integrated AMP. This unit arrived this week and I have installed the 20’ fiber optic cable needed for the network. 

 

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8 minutes ago, BigAlMc said:

 

Thanks Jesus,

 

When you say Signature SE with OpticalRendu board is that the OpticalRendu but with the superior power supply of your SE range?

 

Cheers,

Alan

At minimum it has an SE power supply, but it might have been tweaked. I’m not sure because I just asked Barrows to make me a unit and didn’t specify anything about the power supply. Needless to say it’s a low noise power supply.

 

FYI #1 above is unbalanced out into my integrated AMP and #2 is balanced out into integrated AMP.

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21 minutes ago, firedog said:

I don’t have a horse in this argument, but there’s an obvious hole in your argument, Barrows. Maybe Sonore didn’t get optimal results from servers because the Sonore servers weren’t as good as some of the ones made by companies like Innuos. Just because Sonore thinks they “proved” that servers are an inferior medium doesn’t make it so. Maybe other companies are better at it than Sonore was. 

I use to build the servers by hand and they had separate i2s/USB/AES-EBU/analog cards, drive isolation system and SATA filters which I don't even see on some "optimized" servers. On the two box solution I had Barrows build a dual power supply which one powered the main board (a low noise medical SMPS) and another powered the add-on card (small linear power supply). It sounded really nice, but I wasn't thrilled with the effort it took to make it sound really nice, the size, the complexity, the acoustic noise from the drives, etc. I cancelled the project and stopped all server production after the second unit was built. The Rendu series is the result of that decision.        

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27 minutes ago, BigAlMc said:

 

Not sure I follow the balanced/unbalanced comment but I found it interesting you use a MicroRendu instead of an UltraRendu.

 

What PS are you using here?

 

Cheers,

Alan

I just wanted to be clear. I wouldn't read to much into it...things get swapped around here all the time. 

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1 hour ago, Summit said:

Yes I remember, but your findings (that server and PSU for the router/switch) didn’t match my own listening tests. All gear has to be good to get stunning results IMO, and that includes gear upstream of the renderer. The more revealing the rest of your system is, the more important the gear upstream will become.

I can only, in good faith, report the facts and I'm not going to argue your perception. Also, the facts remain the facts no matter who agrees with you. My gear is quite good IMO. The Synology NAS, AT&T fiber service and router, TrendNet switch, cables are all quite good. I'm also getting stunning results. Last night after a day of fun posting here on A.S. I turned off the lights and fired up my Signature Rendu SE with optical input for the first time. My conclusion (audiophile euphoric type expressions side) is that it's sad that people feel they need to do more than they have to get stunning results. BTW my opinion is independent of what the OP chooses as his solution.     

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43 minutes ago, Blackmorec said:

There are a few things going on here I believe. Let’s look at the logic. 

 

When you isolate your hi-fi system’s data stream from its upstream components, such that no electrical noise is transmitted nor measured, but a change in upstream components has an impact on sound quality,  the conclusion is simply that the changes have nothing to do with the noise that was isolated and confirmed absent by measurements.   Claiming that no change in upstream components can have an effect due to the isolation is simply denying that other factors may be influencing SQ with absolutely no logical grounds for making that claim.  

Isolating electrical noise is not going to influence factors like jitter, crosstalk, data errors,  data distortions etc etc.  

Isolation will prevent electrical noise reaching downstream components but will do absolutely nothing for anything that modifies the actual data stream. 

Further, the components used to execute the isolation could themselves be introducing negative impacts on the SQ that are unrelated to electrical noise. 

In my experience, the more resolution I squeeze from a system, the more profound the losses due  to set-up shortcomings. Conversely, the less resolving a system, the less prone it is to reveal set-up deficiencies or changes. 

In my system I have complete electrical isolation via a wi-fi link but changing cables, power supplies and routers and modifying the vibration reaching  or produced by the upstream components all have a clear influence on SQ which obviously has nothing to do with electrical noise.   

We are not ignoring that part of things. Bit perfect playback be it original content streamed as such or content re-sampled arriving bit perfect is a prerequisite. To quote an industry colleague who works on one of the popular audio player projects, "you can't get better than bit perfect".     

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42 minutes ago, 4est said:

Out of curiosity, who is the expert exemplified by the surgeon in your example, you or John Swenson? I ask this as to my knowledge, you are a self taught DIYer such as I am. To suggest that you are "a trained professional" and that your opinion on your own products is akin to that of a orthopedic surgeon is a VERY "extreme example" at best, and closer to to a lie than the truth. I respect you and Sonore in general, but you have waded into manufacture's waters and need to tread more lightly IMO.

 

Oh, and for the record, an organ grinding monkey is a professional too. Being paid for something(peanuts!) is no indicator of qualifications. There are some pretty tuned in folks around here, I'd not be so quick to put airs on.

4est, Barrows is a technician assembling mostly pre-manufactuted boards for the Signature Rendu series. He also tests units and ships them for Sonore under contract.      

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1 minute ago, Summit said:

 

What are the facts you are talking about? Is it maybe that the gear upstream of the ultraRendu matters after all, or why else would Sonore start producing stuff like the opiticalRendu and Sonore opticalModule that is meant to "block" the noise coming upstream of the renderer?

I have conducted a series of tests based on some of the network tweaks proposed here on CA. The Rendu series is meant to be a remote output for streaming. These units are optically isolated from the network and used for bit perfect playback. So we have 100% galvanic isolation and no re-sampling on board as the design parameters. The opticalModule is a natural accessory for the opticalRendu being that people need to convert cable Ethernet to optical Ethernet and we want to guarantee 100% compatibility. The opticalModule is in pre-production so I'm using a TrendNet switch to convert cable Ethernet to optical Ethernet at the moment. We don't expect everyone to need a switch so the opticalModule is a simple way to do the same convention.

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8 minutes ago, Summit said:

 

I repeat, what are the facts you are talking about?

 

You may believe that the constant arguing and promoting of the tech you are selling is good for business, I think not.

For example a linear supply on a switch made no change at the output of the DAC. Im providing an alternative view based on my gear as it should be. 

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20 hours ago, matthias said:

 

Can you elaborate further?

No measured change at the output of the DAC?

What about listening through speakers/HP?

Thanks

 

Matt

I was using a DAC that is really sensitive to it's input because it's powered 100% by the Rendu and using it's unbalanced output which doesn't inherently clean up noise. No change at the output of the DAC. Listening via speakers. 

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20 hours ago, Summit said:

 

That you didn’t measure any difference on the output of your DAC doesn’t qualify as “facts” for that switches, servers and their PSU has an impact on SQ, or not. You didn’t even show the measurement, just said it was no difference. I don’t have the time to explain all the thing you need to do correct to get reliable measurements, but there are many books and article that you can read.  

 

If it was a fact what you’re claiming the EtherREGEN for example wouldn’t make any difference.

I have actually done the tests here with my analyzer so yes don't waste your time. I'm presenting the facts mostly for the benefit of others. If any of this is wasted on you that is fine by me.

 

I don't make the EtherRegen so you really need to talk to Alex about it. However, it will also have 100% galvanic isolation when used via it's SFP port and low noise oscillator and clean power circuits. I have spoken with John at length multiple times about his hypothesis regarding the phase noise from system to system. First of all, we are talking about something incredibly difficult to measure requiring highly specialized gear to detect it's presence. FYI John has not finalized making the gear or started the measurements. I'm open to the idea that he will find something and we will utilize it when appropriate. John, also hypothesizes that the phase noise signature decays through each device. In that line of thinking a Rendu with it's low noise oscillators and clean power circuits is a source for the proposed decay. The opticalModule and EtherRegen would be another. On the scale of phase noise to power supply the power supply wins on important measurable affects at the output of the DAC every time.     

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