REVIEW: Comparison of 5 High End Digital Music Servers - Aurender N10, CAD CAT server, TotalDac d1-Server, Auralic Aries, Audiophile Vortex Box

Discussion in 'High-end Audio Forum' started by romaz, Nov 9, 2015.
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  1. davidland
    really helpful. thanks
  2. bruceorr
    romaz: My zenith SE MKII should arrive next week. Given your reports it cant get here fast enough. II've searched bun been able to find the answer to this question regarding use of your zenith: Are you using Roon? Are you using both Roon Core and Roon Ready integrated in the Zenith? Or is the Roon Core on a separate device? Thanks
  3. Limniscate
    I just got my SE and will report back later.
  4. onlychild
    Let us know how it goes. My SE is arriving next week. Read it needs some good burn-in to get rid of some digital harshness.

    Which Dac are you feeding it with?
  5. Limniscate
    Schiit Yggy using a SOtM dX-USB Ultra with Transparent Reference AES cable and Curious USB.
  6. greenmountain
    Is the SE version really worth compared to the standard Mk II (which I am presently auditioning)?
  7. Limniscate
    No idea, I've never heard the standard version. There's a guy on who has the standard and is getting the SE. I noticed you're using a Devialet. Are you using USB or Ethernet from the Innuos? Which one sounds better?
  8. greenmountain
    I am using USB only as ethernet is not functional after the core upgrade of my D250 Pro without AIR. I hope the next firmware will make that possible again!
  9. AmusedToD
    Hi Rajiv,

    Great to see you contributing here in great detail, as your reviews have been and still are of great value to the audiophile community.

    I have been using the dCS NB for a few months now and it’s an excellent machine. However, I firmly believe it was designed primarily for the legacy dCS DACs users, namely the Vivaldi DAC and the older series DACs with dual AES inputs (Scarlatti, Paganini, Elgar).

    In my opinion, and based on some tests I have done, the magic with the NBR happens under these circumstances:

    1. Dual AES connection to a legacy dCS DAC (in my case it’s the Paganini)
    2. Word clock connection from the dCS NB word clock out to a legacy dCS DAC word clock input

    I find these two features of the NB to be the crucial differentiating point between the NB and all other streamers on the market. If someone is to buy the NB in order to use a single AES or a SPDIF output to a non-dCS DAC without a wclk input, he will get a fine streamer and that’s it. But dual AES made a magical transformation in my system, and I am still baffled why is that so. The dynamics are so much better, the soundstage noticeably bigger with more air and transparency, the imaging superb. This is the point where the NB makes a great return on investment. Further improvements happen when you synchronize the clocks between the NB and the DAC (with the NB being the master and the DAC being the slave), but in my experience not as significant as the dual AES connection. But there is a catch. In order to get the most of the dual AES setup, you need really good cables, possibly exceeding the value of the NB itself. I have a pair of very expensive Kubala-Sosna Elation! AES/EBU cables on order which are to replace the pair of Transparent Reference cables I am using at the moment.

    I have also found out that your old “bridged connection” tweak works really well with the dCS NB (even with a noisy server such as mine), which to my mind is a proof that the NB is not immune to upstream tweaks.

    Now I am at a point where I need to decide what to go for in the server/Roon core department, and the Zenith MK2 is a candidate. I intend to use it just as you described, by connecting the streamer LAN output directly to the NB’s LAN input. So the Zenith would work only in Roon Core mode. However, I don’t have the possibility to test it prior to buying (no dealer in my country), so I wonder whether it will be a noticable improvement over a NUC or a SonicTransporter i5 in such scenario.

    What is your recommendation?
  10. STR-1
    For those still undecided about ordering a Zenith SE, I received mine on Saturday and just learned from Innuos (when following up on an email to support) that they’ve nearly all gone.
  11. yellowblue
    I suppose you are connecting the Zenith SE directly to the Dave via USB? How is the SE sounding compared to your mRendu/Iso Regen?
  12. STR-1
    It is at the moment connected directly to DAVE via usb but I’m not doing any critical listening, or comparisons with mRendu, until it is properly run in. I’ve ripped a handful of CDs and will keep it running for about 100 hours before having a good listen.
  13. austinpop
    Very wise! The SE really improves with burn in.
  14. Whazzzup
    Antipodes audio as well, but can't figure if its burn in or just warm up.
  15. Pappadave
    I have spoken to Innous and they said they are collecting orders for another run of SE's in February. Go figure.
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