REVIEW: Comparison of 5 High End Digital Music Servers - Aurender N10, CAD CAT server, TotalDac d1-Server, Auralic Aries, Audiophile Vortex Box
May 22, 2016 at 8:59 PM Post #361 of 1,483

romaz

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Roy,  thanks still again.
Can the MR be used with JRiver Media Center?  
After finding out that DSD files can run natively with Windows 10 through Parallels Desktop 11 using a Macbook Pro running OSX 10.11.5, I am ready to see if MR can improve on the sound.
 
I love the the sound of Roon now running with DSD files using above software setup but Roon does not support Asian characters, as yet.  Some 10,000 titles of mine are Asian.
 
JRiver does support and the sound is really close to Roon.
So, I wonder if MR can work with JRiver.
 
Naturally, I will be trying MR using just the Mac OS to see if my system can play DSD files under Mac.
 
Paul

The microRendu is capable of running in 4 output modes with RoonReady representing only one of those modes (mode #4).  People are talking about using JRiver with their microRendu in DLNA output mode (mode #3) although I have not tried it since I no longer use JRiver.  Fortunately, DLNA output mode is capable of native DSD playback so you should be in good shape.
 
May 22, 2016 at 9:14 PM Post #362 of 1,483

romaz

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Maybe it's the combo of mR+DAVE that is causing USB cables to not matter as much.  In my system, the AU24SE was more extended in the highs relative to the Curious USB when used between the mR and a Mojo.  Not a huge difference for sure, but enough where I would have a hard time parting with the AU24SE in favor of the less expensive Curious cable.  Or maybe the difference I heard was because I'm using the shorter Curious usb 200mm Regen Link.   

With the Sonicorbiter SE and Aurender N10, the AU24SE is quite noticeably better than the Curious USB and TotalDac USB so I don't doubt this is a great cable.  With my mR, it's possible, the DAVE might be the difference.  Cable length probably also makes a difference.  
 
There are 2 schools of thought when it comes to USB cable length and how it possibly impact SQ.  One theory suggests that if a USB cable has conditioning properties, it has to be long enough for it to be able to condition the signal.  What that ideal length is, I'm not sure, and so we have to rely on the manufacturers for guidance.  This same principle applies to mains cables.  Synergistic Research, for example, won't make a mains cable less than 1.5 meters in length because they believe that is the minimum length necessary for its RF shield to be able to do its job.  Then there is the likelihood that too long of a cable, especially a cable with no real conditioning properties, will only serve as an antenna for RF.  For these kinds of cables, the shorter the length the better.  I found the tiny hard USB connector that comes with the mR to be superior to the 2-meter generic USB cable and on par with most the other cables except for the Clarity Cables Natural USB.  With this little piece, I believe its ultra short length is the secret to its success.
 
May 22, 2016 at 10:35 PM Post #364 of 1,483

romaz

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As far as ethernet cables and network isolation devices, here is what I found with the mR connected to my DAVE.
 

 
Having tried various inexpensive CAT 5/6 cables in the past (I've not tried CAT 7/8 cables), I never could tell much of a difference with my previous TotalDac setup although I had settled on the Blue Jeans brand of Belkin-made network cables (the blue cable in the photo) over a generic CAT 6 cable (skinny white cable in the photo) that is included for free with your router or network device as the Blue Jeans cable felt very well made in comparison with good shielding and superior connectors.  Their CAT 6 cables also came with performance measurements which I felt was a nice touch.  I once tried an AudioQuest Cinnamon ethernet cable and heard no difference against the much less expensive Blue Jeans cable and so it had been my opinion that expensive audiophile network cables were snake oil.
 
Then, someone sent me an SOtM CAT6 cable ($170) with isolation filter ($350) (the thick white cable in the photo) last year and this made a very noticeable improvement in terms of clarity and more open soundstage over the Blue Jeans cable.  This was the first cable that proved to me that network isolation or RF filtration mattered and so this had become my reference network cable.  At some point, I was introduced to optical isolators and just like a Toslink SPDIF data cable, it did a great job of isolating against line noise.  Combined with my SOtM network cable/filter, I felt pretty comfortable that I was adequately isolated from network line noise and indeed, I couldn't tell much difference between local playback vs network Tidal streaming with my former CAD CAT server. 
 
As has been described by John Swenson, the mR has various defenses against network RF noise including a combination of methods to both isolate and filter against this noise.  In Chris Connaker's review, he was unable to distinguish among various inexpensive network cables but admitted that he had not tried any expensive "audiophile" network cables nor did he make mention whether he assessed for the impact of optical network isolators.
 
In my testing, I did find some differences although they are minor.  What surprised me more was what my preference was.  What I found was that my optical isolators now don't add much, if anything at all.  I thought at times I could be hearing a subtle difference but I also knew I could be imagining it.  Upon blind testing, I could not tell at all.  I have read on the CA site how one person actually felt his isolators made his SQ worse and so he removed them.  With or without them, I could not detect a difference and so I have now removed them as well.  
 
Between a cheap 3-foot CAT 6 cable that I got for free with one of my routers and a much better shielded Blue Jeans brand CAT6 cable with superior terminations (3 feet, $9.25), I could tell no difference.  With the much more expensive SOtM cable ($170) + filter ($350), there was a definite "smoothing" effect that was unmistakable even when blinded but unlike with the Sonicorbiter or Aurender N10 where I found this effect preferable, with the mR, I did not.  It almost seemed to rob some of the dynamics from the music and took away some of that "you are there" experience. This will probably come down to personal preference for some but for the first time, I am preferring a cheap cable against a proven, more expensive cable.  Is it possible that too much conditioning is bad?  Can putting a line conditioner after another line conditioner be too much?  I will revisit this again down the road just to be sure but for now, I have decided to shelf my SOtM cable + filter and replace it with a Blue Jeans CAT 6.
 
May 22, 2016 at 10:37 PM Post #365 of 1,483

romaz

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  The short Totaldac USB sounds better than a 1 meter Totaldac I have here.

Vincent Brient had suggested this to me as well but I never had a short one to test.  I don't doubt that the short one is better since this cable's filtering capabilities lies within that sealed black box and not within the cable itself.  With the microRendu, I'm not sure it will matter.
 
May 22, 2016 at 11:46 PM Post #366 of 1,483

paulchiu

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  As far as ethernet cables and network isolation devices, here is what I found with the mR connected to my DAVE.
 

 
Having tried various inexpensive CAT 5/6 cables in the past (I've not tried CAT 7/8 cables), I never could tell much of a difference with my previous TotalDac setup although I had settled on the Blue Jeans brand of Belkin-made network cables (the blue cable in the photo) over a generic CAT 6 cable (skinny white cable in the photo) that is included for free with your router or network device as the Blue Jeans cable felt very well made in comparison with good shielding and superior connectors.  Their CAT 6 cables also came with performance measurements which I felt was a nice touch.  I once tried an AudioQuest Cinnamon ethernet cable and heard no difference against the much less expensive Blue Jeans cable and so it had been my opinion that expensive audiophile network cables were snake oil.
 
Then, someone sent me an SOtM CAT6 cable ($170) with isolation filter ($350) (the thick white cable in the photo) last year and this made a very noticeable improvement in terms of clarity and more open soundstage over the Blue Jeans cable.  This was the first cable that proved to me that network isolation or RF filtration mattered and so this had become my reference network cable.  At some point, I was introduced to optical isolators and just like a Toslink SPDIF data cable, it did a great job of isolating against line noise.  Combined with my SOtM network cable/filter, I felt pretty comfortable that I was adequately isolated from network line noise and indeed, I couldn't tell much difference between local playback vs network Tidal streaming with my former CAD CAT server. 
 
As has been described by John Swenson, the mR has various defenses against network RF noise including a combination of methods to both isolate and filter against this noise.  In Chris Connaker's review, he was unable to distinguish among various inexpensive network cables but admitted that he had not tried any expensive "audiophile" network cables nor did he make mention whether he assessed for the impact of optical network isolators.
 
In my testing, I did find some differences although they are minor.  What surprised me more was what my preference was.  What I found was that my optical isolators now don't add much, if anything at all.  I thought at times I could be hearing a subtle difference but I also knew I could be imagining it.  Upon blind testing, I could not tell at all.  I have read on the CA site how one person actually felt his isolators made his SQ worse and so he removed them.  With or without them, I could not detect a difference and so I have now removed them as well.  
 
Between a cheap 3-foot CAT 6 cable that I got for free with one of my routers and a much better shielded Blue Jeans brand CAT6 cable with superior terminations (3 feet, $9.25), I could tell no difference.  With the much more expensive SOtM cable ($170) + filter ($350), there was a definite "smoothing" effect that was unmistakable even when blinded but unlike with the Sonicorbiter or Aurender N10 where I found this effect preferable, with the mR, I did not.  It almost seemed to rob some of the dynamics from the music and took away some of that "you are there" experience. This will probably come down to personal preference for some but for the first time, I am preferring a cheap cable against a proven, more expensive cable.  Is it possible that too much conditioning is bad?  Can putting a line conditioner after another line conditioner be too much?  I will revisit this again down the road just to be sure but for now, I have decided to shelf my SOtM cable + filter and replace it with a Blue Jeans CAT 6.

 
Roy, now that derivatives Windows works for me, the microtransporter may not be needed.  How can I connect the MR to where I store all my music files? Right now, they are in a 2TB Samsung red label SSD housed inside an external USB3 chassis.
 
Paul
 
May 22, 2016 at 11:53 PM Post #367 of 1,483

romaz

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Roy, now that derivatives Windows works for me, the microtransporter may not be needed.  How can I connect the MR to where I store all my music files? Right now, they are in a 2TB Samsung red label SSD housed inside an external USB3 chassis.
 
Paul

This is true Paul.  Since your Mac is right there with the DAVE, there may be no point to get the sonicTransporter, especially since you will be using both Roon and JRiver.  If you continue to use your Mac (Windows 10 via Parallels) as your Roon server, then you point that server to where you store your music.  This could be internally within your Mac or in you NAS.  Under the Roon setup page, you are allowed to list as many music storage sources as you wish and Roon should track and catalog them for you, whether you have 2TB of music or 10TB.  Your mR will have nothing to do with this.  Once you get your mR, you just select it as your Roon Endpoint.
 
May 23, 2016 at 12:03 AM Post #368 of 1,483

paul79

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  Vincent Brient had suggested this to me as well but I never had a short one to test.  I don't doubt that the short one is better since this cable's filtering capabilities lies within that sealed black box and not within the cable itself.  With the microRendu, I'm not sure it will matter.


Ya, it's a subtle difference, but really there.
 
May 23, 2016 at 12:11 AM Post #369 of 1,483

paulchiu

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  This is true Paul.  Since your Mac is right there with the DAVE, there may be no point to get the sonicTransporter, especially since you will be using both Roon and JRiver.  If you continue to use your Mac (Windows 10 via Parallels) as your Roon server, then you point that server to where you store your music.  This could be internally within your Mac or in you NAS.  Under the Roon setup page, you are allowed to list as many music storage sources as you wish and Roon should track and catalog them for you, whether you have 2TB of music or 10TB.  Your mR will have nothing to do with this.  Once you get your mR, you just select it as your Roon Endpoint.

 
Roy, how do I connect my 2TB SSD drive to the MR?  I may need that microTransporter after all.  My home NAS is one noisy box.  From time to time, software runs to defrag files and such.
 
Since I cannot connect directly the USB3 box with my 2TB SSD directly to the MR, maybe I should just get that $379 bare transporter chassis and put my own 2TB loaded SSD in.  
Would that work?
 
Also, what ethernet cable do you recommend in such a case?
Thanks.
 
Paul
 
May 23, 2016 at 12:11 AM Post #370 of 1,483

paul79

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These network tweaks, as it were, are a balance of trade offs. I am speaking of different RJ45 cables, filters, isolators, etc. You can absolutely have too much. These devices are things that shouldn't matter and the hardware devices should take care of all of these things, but all too often, they do not. The MR is sounding more and more interesting!!
 
May 23, 2016 at 12:30 AM Post #371 of 1,483

romaz

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  These network tweaks, as it were, are a balance of trade offs. I am speaking of different RJ45 cables, filters, isolators, etc. You can absolutely have too much. These devices are things that shouldn't matter and the hardware devices should take care of all of these things, but all too often, they do not. The MR is sounding more and more interesting!!

You need to give this one a listen, Paul.  It's the real deal and at $640, the risk is low.
 
May 23, 2016 at 12:37 AM Post #373 of 1,483

romaz

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Roy, how do I connect my 2TB SSD drive to the MR?  I may need that microTransporter after all.  My home NAS is one noisy box.  From time to time, software runs to defrag files and such.
 
Since I cannot connect directly the USB3 box with my 2TB SSD directly to the MR, maybe I should just get that $379 bare transporter chassis and put my own 2TB loaded SSD in.  
Would that work?
 
Also, what ethernet cable do you recommend in such a case?
Thanks.
 
Paul

Paul, that's the beauty of using a Roon endpoint is you can tuck your noisy NAS or server anywhere, even in a closet, and you shouldn't have to see or hear it.  It also doesn't matter if it has audiophile-level parts, special power supply, etc. because it is the Roon endpoint (the mR) that does all the heavy lifting when it comes to SQ.  Your NAS just has to be on the network where your Roon server can see it, that's it.
 
As far as ethernet cable for the mR, see my post #364 but I am finding it doesn't seem to really matter.  I have gone with my Blue Jeans CAT 6 because it is well made and inexpensive but it seems almost anything will give you great sound.
 
May 23, 2016 at 12:41 AM Post #374 of 1,483

romaz

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  Yep, and it looks like it will go right in my system, since it supports MPD....

Not only that, if you use one of your Paul Hynes supplies or SBoosters with a 6-9V output, you're really good to go (although 7V is supposedly ideal).  With this piece, everyone is preaching that the PSU matters and a low noise supply isn't what's important but a supply with low output impedance and fast transient current delivery.  
 
May 23, 2016 at 1:32 AM Post #375 of 1,483

paul79

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The Hynes Supplies are output adjustable, within a window. Around +/- 5V. That window can also be adjusted with a resistor change. The current rating also has to be refigured if changing the voltage. Love the Hynes stuff.
 

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