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Innuos Zenith Mk3 or OpticalRendu + separate server?

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2 minutes ago, vortecjr said:

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. 

 

 

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


AudioLinux NUCi7DNKE server (powered by SPS-500) > AudioLinux NUCi7DNBE endpoint (powered by LPS-1.2) > PS Audio Directstream DAC > Hegel P20 Pre > PS Audio M700 monoblocks > Salk Sound Supercharged Songtowers

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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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This topic is quite useless and runs in circles, as a suggestion:

- move the topic to the Sponsored section

- rename the title, ie ‘When using a OpticalRendu, does a quality server matter?’

- just wait till OpticalRendu’s are actual available, so a comparison can be made 👍

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37 minutes ago, vortecjr said:

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

 

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


AudioLinux NUCi7DNKE server (powered by SPS-500) > AudioLinux NUCi7DNBE endpoint (powered by LPS-1.2) > PS Audio Directstream DAC > Hegel P20 Pre > PS Audio M700 monoblocks > Salk Sound Supercharged Songtowers

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21 minutes ago, FredM said:

This topic is quite useless and runs in circles, as a suggestion:

- move the topic to the Sponsored section

- rename the title, ie ‘When using a OpticalRendu, does a quality server matter?’

- just wait till OpticalRendu’s are actual available, so a comparison can be made 👍

 

Oh the Op has long since given up on this thread and the argumentative types propelling it in circles 🙄

 

@McNulty Did you decide or would you care to share your latest thinking? We promise to be nice regardless.

 

Cheers,

Alan


AudioLinux NUCi7DNKE server (powered by SPS-500) > AudioLinux NUCi7DNBE endpoint (powered by LPS-1.2) > PS Audio Directstream DAC > Hegel P20 Pre > PS Audio M700 monoblocks > Salk Sound Supercharged Songtowers

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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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4 hours ago, vortecjr said:

What did I do to deserve this? 

 

11 minutes ago, vortecjr said:

So is the MQA thread and yet on and on it goes:)

 

2 cracking posts from you Jesus (R)!😆

 It must be that early morning riser effect.

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8 hours ago, Blackmorec said:

What I really don’t enjoy is  a manufacturer or its representatives rubbishing a competitive genre of products with implied criticism based on set-up shortcomings while presenting an ideal case for his own products.

Please point to where I criticized another companies products?  I try to be very careful to never do this, and if I have, then I will post a retraction.  I have many friends in this industry, and it does no one any good when one manufacture goes after another in a public forum.

 

Many times I have posted that if a user wants to use a direct connected server, then I would advise them to get the best "audiophile" server they can find, and to not expect great performance from a basic commercial computer connected directly to a DAC.

 

Now in an Ethernet environment I certainly have a different opinion, but that is not being critical of any companies product.  My POV in an Ethernet connected system is that the Renderer is then what matters most (being directly connected to the DAC via either USB or SPDIF/AES/I2S).  This is no criticism of "audiophile" servers, it is just pointing out that by isolating the server via Ethernet its influence on sonics is greatly reduced (if not entirely eliminated).  That is my experience, and I stand by it.  Others may have different experiences as well, and that is OK.  I agree to disagree with those people as it is not my experience.

 

I have tried to make this discussion more interesting a few times, but no one seems to want to have an intelligent, informed, discussion about possibilities.  I would love to see some thoughts on this:  

I have seen some post here that "source matters most", then endpoint (I prefer "Renderer" as endpoint is not very specific), then DAC.  Clearly I do not agree with that thesis at all.  DAC matters more, for one thing as it is both an analog and digital component, and analog problems trump digital ones in every way (they are an order of magnitude worse).  But, for sake of a potentially interesting discussion, if we accept the thesis that source matters most, and we consider Qobuz, where do we get?

 

So what is the "source" for Qobuz?  It would have to be the servers that Qobuz uses.  Now some have suggested that audiophiles "know" streaming services produce compromised sonics vs. locally stored files.  I have no opinion on that topic, as I have no experience streaming files, I only play locally stored files, but I have met plenty of serious audiophiles (OK being an audiophile really is not "serious" business, perhaps enthusiastic is a better term).  Who do much, or even all, of their listening via streaming services, and who find no difference in SQ streaming vs. locally stored.  That is a discussion for another time though.  Back to Qobuz servers: so if the "source" matters most, then clearly Qobuz would have to be using "audiophile" servers to produce very good sound quality, given the thesis, right?  So, what is the takeaway here?  Either all those audiophiles who find no problems with the sound quality from streaming services are mistaken, or really, the "source"is not what matters most at all...


ROON: DSD 256-Signature Rendu optical--Buffalo PRO (ESS 9038) or DSC-2--Ncore 400 Stereo-Focus Audio FS888-JL E-112 sub-Nordost Tyr USB, Cardas Clear AC, XLR, & speaker cables-Synergistic Blue & Hi Fi Tuning Supreme Cu Fuses, Dark Matter system clarifiers.    Design/Build Consultant with Sonore

 

                                                                                                  SONORE computer audio

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5 minutes ago, barrows said:

Back to Qobuz servers: so if the "source" matters most, then clearly Qobuz would have to be using "audiophile" servers to produce very good sound quality, given the thesis, right?  So, what is the takeaway here?  Either all those audiophiles who find no problems with the sound quality from streaming services are mistaken, or really, the "source"is not what matters most at all...

I will try a third time to post my feelings about your repeated  return to this argument. Perhaps you could read it and react. It is about logic, not preference. Here is what I wrote, (twice!) with some changes this time:

 

I think you are exaggerating the effects of phase noise "build-up" to make your point here. No one is saying it ruins the signal to the point where, as you suggest, it "ruins" the internet (!).  Tidal and Qobuz clearly don't use audiophile servers. That's not in dispute, either.

 

But Tidal and Qobuz are clearly NOT good enough on their own sound-wise-- or else none of us would buy any of the products any of you are selling! We would just stream into earpods directly from our iMacs/iPhones and happy. Streaming services ARE good enough for that.

 

But they aren't good enough for people here. Because everything that comes before your modem DOES degrade sound quality for those who have the systems, the money, the inclination, and the ears, to hear the difference.

 

We are only ever talking about a tiny percent of music listeners. don't forget. For us - I think I can say us - every little bit matters...  So we go out and buy switches and servers, cables and renderers that mitigate the deleterious elements that Tidal/Qobuz server/ISP,  etc. introduce. I hope you can see the logic in this.

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4 minutes ago, incus said:

But Tidal and Qobuz are clearly NOT good enough on their own sound-wise-- or else none of us would buy any of the products any of you are selling! We would just stream into earpods directly from our iMacs/iPhones and happy. Streaming services ARE good enough for that.

 

But they aren't good enough for people here. Because everything that comes before your modem DOES degrade sound quality for those who have the systems, the money, the inclination, and the ears, to hear the difference.

I read it when you suggested the above previously.  While this may be your experience, it is not that of many other audiophiles I have spoken with.  There are plenty of audiophiles with systems the equal, or better, than yours, who enjoy listening to music files streamed from the Internet and find no difference in sound quality.  Certainly streaming from Qobuz does not require that one is listening via a cell phone and earbuds.  Indeed there are even manufacturers of very high end gear using Qobuz at audio shoes to demo their gear, do you think they would be doing this if the streaming service was hopelessly compromised for sound quality?


ROON: DSD 256-Signature Rendu optical--Buffalo PRO (ESS 9038) or DSC-2--Ncore 400 Stereo-Focus Audio FS888-JL E-112 sub-Nordost Tyr USB, Cardas Clear AC, XLR, & speaker cables-Synergistic Blue & Hi Fi Tuning Supreme Cu Fuses, Dark Matter system clarifiers.    Design/Build Consultant with Sonore

 

                                                                                                  SONORE computer audio

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11 minutes ago, barrows said:

I read it when you suggested the above previously.  While this may be your experience, it is not that of many other audiophiles I have spoken with.  There are plenty of audiophiles with systems the equal, or better, than yours, who enjoy listening to music files streamed from the Internet and find no difference in sound quality.  Certainly streaming from Qobuz does not require that one is listening via a cell phone and earbuds.  Indeed there are even manufacturers of very high end gear using Qobuz at audio shoes to demo their gear, do you think they would be doing this if the streaming service was hopelessly compromised for sound quality?

Okay so you clearly did not follow my argument.

 

1) "Find no difference in sound quality" compared to what?? Do you mean local vs. streaming? Then all that means is that they have optimised their streaming playback chain to achieve great SQ on par with local. That has nothing to do with what I am saying.

 

(And I will ignore the inherent dig at my system by your silly quoting of someone with a "better" system. Better based on what? Cost? How the F do you know what kind of SQ I am achieving in my home? I DETEST this line of reasoning - "better systems than yours." Ha.)

 

2) "Certainly streaming from Qobuz does not require that one is listening via a cell phone and earbuds." Whaaaaat? Did I say that? Please read again. Goodness my point is the opposite. Sound is good enough for a cellphone. So why not just stop there? Because "Audiophiles" don't stop there. Ever. They try to improve the signal...

 

3) And your last point IS my point! "High-end" gear can bring improvements to Qobuz. No dispute there. I use Tidal and love the sound I am getting through my system. No one anywhere ever said a streaming service was "hopelessly compromised" for sound quality by phase noise accumulation. Again you are trying to put words in our mouths that "phase noise accumulation" "hopelessly compromises" a signal. That is a straw man you have created for your own argument. BUT -- that signal certainly benefits from the kind of "cleaning up" that your Sonore products - and many others - do. That is precisely my point. There is something to clean up. Some things we don't entirely understand yet. But I suspect we will once JS is done...

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There’s a bit for audiophiles to ponder about the quality of commercial ‘sources’/servers, but I would not buy into that. For me, the data remains the same from source to DAC. I’d say what influences or degrades the sound is what is connected to the DAC and can potentially pollute (electical) the rest of the chain (at home). Even through non-wire delivery (optical and Wi-fi) it’s the receivers that need paying attention to, otherwise that noise will end up reaching the DAC. Hence it is for anyone to speculate (or not) if an OpticalModule improves things further over alternative FMCs.

 

If one hears a big difference between music sources  from the internet of lossless quality and local playback, then they have got their setup all wrong or it needs some investigating. Ultimately a one box (Innuos) or 2 box approach (Roon server+rendu) depends on if the OP likes it all in one place, or if the dedicated server needs to be separated away from the music system.

 

FWIW I have followed a few occasions a recommendation from Charles Hansen in one of his AudioAsylum posts about unplugging every single electrical equipment from the mains, and boy did he have a point. I can’t recommend that for every listening session, but it does help to find practical solutions to elimate such interferences.

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26 minutes ago, incus said:

(And I will ignore the inherent dig at my system by your silly quoting of someone with a "better" system. Better based on what? Cost? How the F do you know what kind of SQ I am achieving in my home? I DETEST this line of reasoning - "better systems than yours." Ha.)

I made no "dig" at your system.  Certainly you accept that some audiophiles have systems better than yours?  Clearly there are systems better than yours (and mine).  My only point here is to suggest that while you think Internet based file streaming from Qobuz is compromised vs. locally stored file playback, there are other audiophiles who do not agree with this assessment, and that there is no consensus on such at this time. 

 

BTW, Sonore products are not engineered to "clean up" anything.  They are Renderers (basically small, low power, custom designed computers).  Renderers receive a file based, error corrected, audio stream over Ethernet, and convert it to a digital audio stream suitable for input to a DAC.  They are not designed to "clean up" anything-instead they are designed to create a totally clean USB output in order for the DAC to produce the best performance it is capable of.  This is an important distinction, clean-up devices are things like the Iso-Regen, etc. which have the same input and output format.


ROON: DSD 256-Signature Rendu optical--Buffalo PRO (ESS 9038) or DSC-2--Ncore 400 Stereo-Focus Audio FS888-JL E-112 sub-Nordost Tyr USB, Cardas Clear AC, XLR, & speaker cables-Synergistic Blue & Hi Fi Tuning Supreme Cu Fuses, Dark Matter system clarifiers.    Design/Build Consultant with Sonore

 

                                                                                                  SONORE computer audio

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7 minutes ago, k-man said:

FWIW I have followed a few occasions a recommendation from Charles Hansen in one of his AudioAsylum posts about unplugging every single electrical equipment from the mains, and boy did he have a point. I can’t recommend that for every listening session, but it does help to find practical solutions to elimate such interferences.

Love the above advice!  I live alone (OK sometimes my GF is here when she is not out on the road playing music) in a modest mountain home.  I have my own line transformer (very lucky) which is not shared with any other users, and I have little plugged in to my AC.  But, there are definitely noise sources (Fridge, well pump is very egregious but only on when water pressure is called for) and I measure my AC line for noise.  It is pernicious...


ROON: DSD 256-Signature Rendu optical--Buffalo PRO (ESS 9038) or DSC-2--Ncore 400 Stereo-Focus Audio FS888-JL E-112 sub-Nordost Tyr USB, Cardas Clear AC, XLR, & speaker cables-Synergistic Blue & Hi Fi Tuning Supreme Cu Fuses, Dark Matter system clarifiers.    Design/Build Consultant with Sonore

 

                                                                                                  SONORE computer audio

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12 minutes ago, barrows said:

My only point here is to suggest that while you think Internet based file streaming from Qobuz is compromised vs. locally stored file playback, there are other audiophiles who do not agree with this assessment, and that there is no consensus on such at this time. 

I didn't say that. Read again. To me there is a small difference between streaming and local - they each have their own issues which I have tried to address in different ways - streaming primarily through reclocking and local primarily through power/filtering/stabilization of the hard drive. But each has its issues. And I would disagree with you, K-man, and say the exact opposite - if you DON'T hear a difference between local playback and streaming then there is something wrong with your system - meaning there is so much noise that it covers up the differences.

 

14 minutes ago, barrows said:

hey are not designed to "clean up" anything-instead they are designed to create a totally clean USB output in order for the DAC to produce the best performance it is capable of.

You contradict yourself here, no? Clean vs. clean? Anyway, you know what I mean. You have created a product you believe enhances the sound coming from a server be it from local playback or streaming from the internet. In other words, there is a "problem" you are presumably addressing with your product beyond mere convenience. So to say you are not "cleaning" the signal is splitting hairs. You are taking a signal and outputting a better signal or there would be no reason for your product to exist.

 

20 minutes ago, barrows said:

 Certainly you accept that some audiophiles have systems better than yours?

And no, I stay out of the ranking of systems entirely. Seriously. It's a terrible trap to fall into as it usually equates to cost. And cost don't mean shit.  Nearly none of us have heard each others' systems in our own homes, so there is absolutely no basis on which to rank these systems other than on perceived quality (based on what? reviews? people talking up their own systems? measurements of some parameters of some components taken in isolation.... so... cost? narcissism? some scope?  no thanks...) Plus the fallacy of the argument - "I know guys with killer systems who disagree with you.." I don't care. I am not talking about my system outside of trying to offer the OP an intelligent, cost-effective path toward achieving his goals. (And to refute the assertion - contradicted by so many anyway - that source doesn't matter in computer playback...)

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3 hours ago, BigAlMc said:

 

Oh the Op has long since given up on this thread and the argumentative types propelling it in circles 🙄

 

@McNulty Did you decide or would you care to share your latest thinking? We promise to be nice regardless.

 

Cheers,

Alan

 

Based on Alans request, I will update you on my little 'Quest'. 

 

This afternoon I went to a local dealer to demo the Zenith Mk3. The dealer not only carries Innuos, but also the speaker, amp and DAC brands that I have at home. Unfortunately he didn't have my specific models at hand today, but he tried to put together a set up with a sound similar to mine. 

 

I must admit the dealers setup I'm not familiair with, combined with the different room acoustics, made it difficult to assess what the Innuos contributed specifically to the sound as a whole. There were some very nice details, but overall I wasn't overwhelmed, something seemed to be missing in the sound. The dealer has offered me a home demo, so I can have a listen in my own set up and get a better judgment of the Innuos and directly compare it to my current streamer.

 

Based on the demo and using the Innuos interface I got the feeling a lot of effort and development was put in the ripping facility and the library management of ripped CDs. I can see for a lot of people this is a positive thing, but for me it is more negative, as I will not be using these functions but do have to pay for it (as part of the purchase price) and it makes the component larger than necessary.

 

With regard to all the postings in this thread, I have read every one of them. Although the discussions have had some rough edges, it has given me an overview of the two camps (server quality doesn't matter vs. server must be of very good quality).

 

If I'm honest, with Roon I think both options will ultimately give me audiophilia nervosa: if I go for the OpticalRendu, after a while I would want to try it with a high quality server and DAS. If I go for the Zenith, after a while I would want to try it with a separate renderer/endpoint.

 

@incus made a fair point I think with his argument on flexibility. I also think resale value of the OpticalRendu will be better after a while than that of the Zenith. When I choose the OpticalRendu, I also need to buy a power supply. I'm following the OpticalRendu thread with great interest to see Sonores final PSU recommendations, so I know what the total costs of Rendu + PS would be.

 

To make things more complicated, a third contender has entered the ring: an Auralic Aries G2 was offered to me with a dealer discount, making it attainable within my price range. The nice thing about the Aries G2 is that it apparently has an excellent implementation of WiFi (https://darko.audio/2018/08/ethernet-or-wifi-which-is-better-for-high-end-audio-streaming/), providing similar network isolation as optical and this would allow me to get rid of not only the FMC in my system, but also the switch and their power supplies. The Auralic Lightning app has matured enough that with this alternative, I might postpone getting a Roon subscription, which would also mean a separate server wouldn't be necessary yet. 

 

If anyone wants to chime with any additional things to consider in my thought process they are more than welcome. With regard to the importance of the quality of the server, I would say the arguments from both sides have been discussed enough now and further discussions could possibly be split off to a separate topic.

 

 

 

 

 

  

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On 3/1/2019 at 11:47 AM, soares said:

Have you tried the zenith with the rendu feeding the DAC?

Just curious on how it could affect sound quality.

Thanks,

 

Jorge

 

No I did not, but I did try the ISO Regen between Zenith and my DAC.  While the IR did bring a significant improvement to the mR 1.4, it didn’t bring any discernible improvements to the Zenith.  Given the quality of the USB signal out of the Zenith, I can’t imagine there’d be a benefit from throwing the mR back into the mix.


Digital:  Innuos Zenith Std Mk2 > Shunyata Alpha USB > Chord Hugo M-Scaler > Shunyata Alpha S/PDIF > Chord Hugo TT2 

Amp & Speakers:  Spectral DMA-150mk2 > Aerial 10T

Foundation: Stillpoints Ultra, Shunyata Denali power conditioner, Shunyata Alpha power cords, Shunyata Anaconda interconnect, MIT Oracle speaker cables, GIK bass traps

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Just a few words about streaming from Qobuz and Tidal.

You have no influence on the incoming quality but you can optimise your home network according to the Source First principle.

One of the best posts I came across on this topic is from @Blackmorec written on WBF:

https://www.whatsbestforum.com/threads/a-new-star-in-2019-innuos-statement-server.27184/page-9#post-555170

 

Matt

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