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romaz

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  1. Like many here, my loyalty is to what sounds best and if the Uptone switch sounds best, I will move to it, however, the sNH-10G has set a very high bar. The one possible downside with the Uptone switch is that its lone isolated port runs at 10/100 Mbits and while I understand the rationale for this, this limited throughput probably makes this switch less than ideal for passing 4K video. As stated, I am finding the sNH-10G extraordinary for home theater and not just 2-channel audio.
  2. This is purely speculative on my part but I would have to assume that with the sNH-10G having its own dedicated sCLK-EX board within centimeters of the switch and directly connected without having to go through extra SMB connectors, that the sNH-10G with in-built sCLK-EX board will sound better but my guess is that using a free (unused) clock tap from your tX-USBultra to clock the sNH-10G would still result in significant gains and would be a smart and sensible thing to do. The downside of doing this is now these 2 units would be married together meaning the sNH-10G would be incapable of functioning alone making resale difficult, should that ever need to happen.
  3. I've had my sNH-10G switch for a few weeks now. Mine has the sCLK-EX board, Evox caps, OCC silver DC leads and 75-ohm master clock input. All told, just under $2k and so pretty expensive. With high cost comes high expectations but this one does not disappoint. As posted on another thread, this one is a dynamics monster and behaves almost like a gain stage. But not just better dynamics, detail articulation, tonal richness, and noise floor are significantly better. Powered with the sPS-500, it sounds very good but with my SR7, it sounds several notches better. This switch really scales to a better PSU even with the ultra clean regulation that is already built into this unit. Regarding the iSO-CAT6 tech that is incorporated into this switch, I own an iSO-CAT6 LAN isolator and I would say it makes a subtle difference at best and is almost disappointing. It is another example that the impact of leakage current is variable from system to system but overall, my experience is that the impact of leakage current is overblown. What I will say is the impact of this switch is not subtle at all. This is not just about adding an iSO-CAT6 to this switch. Having owned/tested many SOtM products, this is easily the most impactful of their products that I have tried in my system and in my case, well worth what I spent for it. I find it more impactful than my tX-USBultra even though the tX-USBultra connects directly to my DAC and so I find this to be a remarkable feat. Does higher level clocking impact this card? Yes, when connected to my REF10, there is greater refinement with a slightly more open sound stage and better timbre but a master clock is more of a finishing touch rather than a must have. This switch sounds very very good without the REF10. It leads me to wonder how important clocking is for this switch as I have never heard clocking result in such improvement in dynamics. Could this switch sound 80-90% as good without the sCLK-EX board at nearly 50% of the price? As I have never tried this switch without the sCLK-EX board, I am left only to speculate. Here is another significant benefit afforded by this switch. Some are aware of how I am using this switch between a noisy, high-power Roon server and a low-power NUC endpoint and I have to say that this switch has basically the same level of impact as the NUC itself. Well, these benefits apply to video also. Using a TIVO Bolt as my video server and a TIVO Mini 4K VOX as my video renderer, I noticed a significant uptick in both video and sound quality when I power my TIVO Mini 4k VOX with an LPS-1.2. This is a wonderful application of the LPS-1.2. However, when I place the sNH-10G switch between the TIVO Bolt and the TIVO Mini 4K VOX, the improvement in both video and sound quality is even greater. Video clarity and sound dynamics are better but especially noticeable is that dialog is clearer and better articulated. With this inexpensive ($179) TIVO Mini 4K VOX powered by an LPS-1.2, connected to the sNH-10G switch, connected to my Chord M-Scaler/DAVE via optical and to my 4K projector via optical HDMI, this very easily surpasses what I was getting from my tricked out Oppo UDP-205 with OCXO and upgraded linear power supplies.
  4. Personally, I have no problems with dissenting or contrasting views and I think skepticism is healthy. As a published medical researcher, everything we publish is subjected to a peer review process for the sake of the health and safety of the population at large but this thread is different. This thread is about expressing subjective observations with the intention of furthering the enjoyment of our music. The problem I have is with the manner of dissent and the lack of respect and cordiality afforded by certain posters. I feel that nobody here should feel a burden to prove what they are hearing and that anyone expressing their observations about pieces of equipment should be taken as sincere until proven otherwise. If there are those who demand charts and graphs, then you’re at the wrong thread because something like an Audio Precision APx555 costs north of $30k and so none of us are going to own this kind of equipment. While @diecaster should have the freedom to express his views, certainly, his post on another thread makes his intentions here very suspect: https://www.computeraudiophile.com/forums/topic/35129-a-novel-way-to-massively-improve-the-sq-of-the-microrendu-ultrarendu/?page=26&tab=comments#comment-892419 With regards to the “flat-earthers” comment, the irony of this statement is that it is the overly technical, chart demanding, engineer-types who are generally the flat-earthers since they hold fast to their old and tired theories and insist that this or that can’t possibly make a difference instead of actually taking a listen for themselves to see if their theories should be revised. For better or worse, this closed-mindedness has never been the mantra of this thread. As for the longevity of this thread, it has exceeded any expectations I ever had for it and as Rajiv posted, it is indeed surprising to note how many people have participated and how many tune in, whether it be for entertainment reasons or otherwise. If I may be so bold to offer my own reasons for its longevity, I believe it is due to: 1. Rajiv’s very capable stewardship. Any way you slice it, this thread is a jumbo hot mess with no real direction except to find any and all means possible to improve our audio setups and so I take some responsibility for this as I chose to look this thread as a personal think tank when I first started it. Regardless, keeping this thread flowing to have kept the interest of so many has been no easy task and Rajiv has done a better job with it than I ever could have. Furthermore, the index Rajiv created has been invaluable. 2. This thread is not really about the OP or any one person, it’s about the collective contributions of the CA community at large and I know of no other thread anywhere like it. While not everything that has been discussed here has passed muster or has passed the test of time, I do believe it is because of the open-mindedness of its participants to try new things and share their findings that our audio setups today are better than they were before this thread was started. 3. Cordiality and respect. No one wants to tune in to a thread full of haters. While this thread can be criticized for being over-exuberant at times, I think most of us enjoy seeing someone else succeed in their audio journey and in so doing, hopefully, we all learn something new along the way. The day this thread becomes about “no way that would work” or “no way you’re hearing what your hearing” is the day this thread should be retired.
  5. I never said your DAC is no good because it’s NOS and so if you somehow inferred that, than I apologize. But my claims are valid and I stand behind them. As I stated, NOS and oversampling DACs aspire to different things and in the ideal world, I believe we each would desire to faithfully recreate the original analog waveform if we could and not just get the best out of the digital recording. The problem is with the execution and there are successes and failures on both sides. I can name plenty of NOS DACs that sound better than oversampling DACs and visa versa. I used to own a TotalDac d1-monobloc, an R2R NOS DAC that to this day is the 2nd best sounding DAC I have ever owned. NOS DACs are known for their musicality and I imagine that your NOS DAC excels in that virtue, otherwise, you wouldn’t be extolling it. However, both from a conceptual and experiential standpoint, I prefer to oversample and I believe there are ways to oversample today to gain the advantages of resolution while still maintaining musicality, but that’s just me and so this statement shouldn’t be looked at as some gospel truth. There is no way to know if someone will like a DAC based on its topology or its stat line alone and so maybe I would be floored by your DAC given the chance to evaluate it but resolution is the inherent limitation of NOS DACs and that isn’t BS. Ultimately, resolution is only one factor and I concede that in the big picture, musicality, as we each define it, is the more important factor. Peace.
  6. This would be an idyllic thing to do and I would be in support of it. Many listeners get good at it because they do a lot of critical comparative listening but they often can't account for what they're hearing and so they offer their own theories that may have no factual basis. Then there are the engineers who make measurements but don't listen or they don't know how to listen and they insist that what the masses are hearing must be placebo if it can't be measured and so you get products like a Sansui receiver that measures great and sounds horrible.
  7. I'm not disagreeing with your logic and yet the observations are consistent. To this day, no one understands the physiology behind why Pepto-Bismol is effective for diarrhea and yet it works.
  8. I'm not sure where I've made a presumption here. As a transmission medium, Toslink is completely immune to RF and so that isn't a presumptuous statement. I was responding to a post that suggested "crap" was going through my DAC's USB port and while this isn't an untrue statement, to my ears, as I have compared Hugo M Scaler's USB input to it's Toslink input, I am finding them to be "virtually" identical, at least close enough to not care whether I am using one or the other. It really doesn't matter to me if other people hear it differently since it is my ears that I have to satisfy. As for DAVE's USB input or M-Scaler's BNC outputs or DAVE itself being perfect, I never said they were and so you have "presumed" too much from my post ?. I am well aware of Rob's position on how he believes there can be coupling to mains noise from upstream components since this was the explanation that he offered to me for the differences we heard when he came over to my house earlier this year. To be quite honest, I am not sure I completely agree with this since I can hear differences among different battery-powered sources which is once again why I don't think SQ is just about RF noise.
  9. You are being a bit presumptuous. My Chord M-Scaler has a galvanically isolated USB input, BNC SPDIF input, and a Toslink input and as you know, Toslink is completely immune to RF noise. The BNC connections between my M-Scaler and Chord DAVE DAC are further galvanically isolated. Having compared the USB input, SPDIF input, and Toslink input, they are each comparable meaning to say they each sound very good with USB and Toslink sounding virtually equivalent. I guess you didn't really read my post(s). AudioLinux as an OS has several modes it can be run in. So using the same software and the same hardware, you can run it in headless mode which involves less resources than the GUI mode, you can Ramboot it and run the entire OS in memory, and you can further run it in "Extreme" mode which is a real-time kernal that prevents CPU sleep and according to the author of this software, these modes all serve to decrease latency. Does this result in SQ differences that are discernible regardless of whether I'm running USB, coax, or Toslink. Yes, absolutely. Regarding Toslink and SPDIF, as most know, these NUCs have no SPDIF outputs and with headless AudioLinux, the Toslink outputs on the NUCs that have Toslink outputs are non-operational. For those looking for an inexpensive way to output to a SPDIF or Toslink DAC, there is the option of using something like this which I own: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009KAU0WO/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 It turns out the HDMI outputs in these NUCs can output digital audio (you would have to turn on this feature in the BIOS) and using this Kanex HDMI to Toslink/SPDIF device, it works very well (up to 24/192 PCM). In fact, using an optical HDMI cable and powering this Kanex unit with my LPS-1 (set to 5V), SQ is quite good going out to either SPDIF coax or Toslink. Having said that, USB still sounds better resolved and more finessed but who knows what might happen if the clocks on this cheap unit were replaced. No question. Rob Watts' pulse array DACs are immune to up to 2uS of jitter which is more jitter than any DAC will ever see. In other words, in his own simulations, he fed his DACs jitter and only after he reached 2uS of jitter did SQ get impacted with his DACs. As stated above, the USB input in his latest M-Scaler is galvanically isolated and of course, there is the option of going SPDIF or Toslink. Having said all that, a low latency OS on this NUC still results in improvement. If you are keen on NOS DACs, then we are no different journeys and that's cool since this is about what sounds good to the listener. All modern delta sigma DACs upsample internally to some degree whether people know it or not. All Chord DACs upsample. HQP upsamples. Modern digital is all about upsampling and so it becomes a matter of degree and how well it's done. The best that a NOS DAC can hope to achieve is fidelity to the digital recording which as we know is a mere facsimile of the original analog waveform. Upsampling DACs through sophisticated algorithms attempt to interpolate the missing information hoping to recreate the original analog waveform before the ADC chopped it all up. With NOS DACs, you are throwing a whole lot of resolution away.
  10. I'm not sure I completely agree with this statement. SD cards are electrically very quiet, certainly much less quiet than an SSD or HDD but they are high latency drives. I have a Mac Mini which runs its OS from an SD card and it sounds nowhere as good as the NUC that runs AudioLinux in RAM. This isn't just about the noise that a drive makes.
  11. This is a fair question and I suspect you won't get a definite answer no matter how many times you ask. Ask an engineer, IT specialist or a typical poster on ASR and they might offer some explanation that improving latency should offer no SQ benefit but those that offer these responses often do so based on a finite understanding of digital audio and not actual listening. They may show you measurements that there is no impact on jitter or SNR but are these the only measures of SQ? Go ahead and disconnect the USB, SPDIF, I2S, or Toslink cable between your player and your DAC for 30 seconds while playing back music. Although extreme, this physical disconnection is a form of latency, is it not? If your DAC is like mine, you will notice that playback stops fairly quickly, typically within just a few seconds and so your DAC's buffer that you speak so highly of isn't that large and it doesn't take long before the DAC is indeed starved for data. Nonetheless, look at all the buffers you have upstream of your DAC (RAM, CPU buffer, disk buffer, Ethernet buffer, etc.). With such buffer redundancy, how could latency possibly be an issue and so your point is well taken. If you use Roon, unlike your DAC, you probably know that Roon typically buffers a whole track into memory (depending on the size of the track) during playback. This is easily proven with Tidal streaming or streaming from a NAS. During playback, disconnect your Ethernet cable and notice that playback will continue for the length of that track in most cases. This should suggest that the Ethernet cable, server, NAS, and router that are upstream of your Roon playback device should have no impact on SQ and yet they can and do. Here's another example. Even though you use an ultraRendu which in of itself is a very good buffer against a higher noise, higher latency server, try loading the latest version of headless AudioLinux + RoonServer onto the server you are currently using and see for yourself if you can hear a difference. Whether the difference is large or small, positive or negative, the point that you can hear a difference at all should tell you that a buffer is not a complete firewall for all of your upstream problems and that upstream components, whether it be digital or analog, whether it be a resistor, inductor, or capacitor, seem to have the ability to permanently imprint on the signal. As for your question of how latency directly impacts SQ? I wonder about this myself. Is it latency itself or is increased latency impacting some other property? Is higher latency leading to increased jitter, increased noise or dropped bits? Unless you are upsampling or applying DSP, most software players claim to be bit-perfect but how does the player know if bits weren't dropped beforehand or dropped somewhere downstream? Neither USB, SPDIF, Toslink nor I2S employ error correcting protocols. And so we're left with empirical evidence. With either Windows, MacOS, or Linux, there are plenty of threads here on CA and elsewhere that suggest that as you trim your OS of unnecessary processes and services, latency improves and SQ improves and this is the foundation for products like Audiophile Optimizer regardless of the DAC and that DAC's buffer. As you move your OS from a higher latency storage medium to a lower latency storage medium (whether it be a hard drive, an SSD, or RAM itself), there are many who will tell you that SQ improves. AudioLinux has an "Extreme" mode which prevents CPU sleep and according to the designer, results in exceptional CPU latency. I can verify that when I use "Extreme" mode on my Mac Pro, this otherwise quiet and cool running machine gets noisier and hotter. While you would think that this would result in increased electrical noise that would be detrimental to SQ, SQ actually improves. As you've suggested that 99% of what we are hearing on this thread is due to "expectation bias," you should listen for yourself. Even blind test yourself. I do this often when I'm not sure if what I'm hearing is real or not. If you can't hear a difference, then live in bliss with what you have but there's no need to call what people are doing on this thread a "joke." Respect begets respect.
  12. Another update and perhaps my final post for awhile. Just too much on my plate. My SOtM sNH-10G network switch arrived late last week. I was gone through the weekend and so this switch has been burning in and has about 100 hours on it now. Initially, when it arrived, it was sounding a touch harsh but this harshness has mostly disappeared and should continue to disappear. My unit has the EVOX caps, OCC silver DC wire, and the EMI paper upgrade. I figured, why not? It also has a 75-ohm master clock input. With all the bells and whistles, the price of this switch is quite high (close to $2k) but based on my favorable experience with the prototype, I knew I wanted one. I look forward to Uptone's upcoming switch. TLS supposedly has an improved switch in the works and of course, there is the AQVOX SE. Lots of promising options which is good because a good network switch is a must unless you go wifi. Straight out of the box, even without the Ref10 and despite the initial harshness, I was simply blown away by this switch. What is amazing is I thought I knew what to expect based on my experience with the prototype and yet my expectations were still exceeded. As good as the TLS switch is, this switch is operating several notches higher. This switch isolates, that's for sure, but more impressively, it acts like a gain stage. Dynamics are unreal. Everything is just bigger and badder but this switch also portrays the subtlest of nuances and the most delicate textures. To my ears, this sNH-10G is their most impactful device that I have heard. More impactful than the sMS-200ultra Neo, tX-USBultra, or sCLK-OCX10 master clock and so if I were forced to choose a single SOtM product, this would be it. Even without the master clock connected, this switch is just killer. With the Ref10, there is greater refinement with truer timbre and a touch more air but the Ref10 is more of a finishing piece and not an absolute must. If you're on the fence between buying something like the Ref10 vs this switch, by all means, buy this switch first. How well does it isolate? Really well and it is a landscape-altering piece. Back when I first received the prototype, I stated that I could discern no meaningful difference when either my Zenith SE or my Mac Pro was functioning as my RoonServer. As I was without SOtM's switch for all of my NUC testing until now, as you know, I suggested that the RoonServer was making a pretty big difference. With SOtM's switch between RoonServer and RoonBridge, there is still a discernible difference but depending on your listening preferences, you may actually prefer not to use headless AudioLinux on your RoonServer. Let me explain. On Friday, before I left to attend some medical meetings, I had a friend come by because he wanted to borrow one of my NUCs to try in his system and so while he was by, I got his opinion on this switch. This friend has a very good system comprised of an Ayon tube DAC, tube preamp, and tube amplification. While it is not entirely my cup of tea (a bit too soft and rounded for my tastes), absolutely nothing sounds harsh in his system and with certain vocal tracks, it is just heavenly and you can listen for hours without fatigue. Nonetheless, my friend prefers a more laid back presentation and he found that with the SOtM switch in place and with headless AudioLinux running on my Mac Pro in Extreme mode, the presentation was too forward and the bass was too strong. While I don't completely agree with his assessment, I do agree that with this switch in place, I could very easily live without AudioLinux on my RoonServer. I do still prefer the more incisive nature of AudioLinux with the Mac Pro for my orchestral pieces but it is no longer a dealbreaker not to have it. Without a doubt, with this switch in place, the quality of my RoonServer matters less. When I feel I have something useful to contribute and when time allows, I'll post again but I'm not sure when that will be. Until then, best wishes and happy holidays!
  13. Very interesting. I'm glad to know the guys at Roon are focusing more on SQ. Your ramdisk suggestion for music files should be easy enough to try out. Deep down, I'm hoping it doesn't result in a significant improvement because I'm loving the simplicity and versatility of what I have now.
  14. No, I'm not. I have tried it in the past with HQP combined with Roon. I know this is a great option for many but I'm using Chord's M-scaler for upsampling instead. For people with Chord DACs, it's a no fuss way to upsample and the results have been very satisfying. You would do well to see what @flkin has been doing as he does this with his Pink Faun 2.16.
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