Introduction of my new Antipodes K50 Music Server

shakti

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May 9, 2015
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In the last time my focus was mainly on the analoge section of my set up, now I am planning to move ahead with digital.

My current analog set up:
- TechDAS AF3 Premium turntable
- Acoustical Systems Axiom tonearm
- Etsuro Gold cartridge
- Boulder 2008 PhonoPre

has developed into a quality area, that I am using my previous digital signal source, consisting of

- Innuos Zenith MK III MusicServer/Rooncore
- Innuos Phoenix USB clock
- 3x Melco 4TB NAS / Server (used only as NAS
- Brinkmann Nyquist II DAC

not so much anymore.

In this respect, I went through the various ways of potential improvement.
I wanted to avoid continuing to distribute the music on several external high-quality NAS, as this requires "expensive" rack space and cabling.

Due to the quality of the Zenith SSD memory, it quickly became clear that I would like to save all the music of about 14TB on SSD.

Since I was not satisfied with the sound of conventional NAS (that's why I had the Melco devices), it was clear that I needed a MusicServer that can be upgraded to at lest 16TB SSD minimum.

My previous sonic experiences with, for example, the Innuos Statement (one year ago) or the Taiko Audio SGM music server (5 years ago version) kept my sonic expectations at a low level, as these devices had not yet been able to convince me 100% of the price they asked for.

I have been cooperating with the company CM-Audio for several years,
Thanks to many joint workshops, I know the owner Markus very well with regard to his sound preferences.
I keep getting tips and suggestions from Markus, an excellent digital expert. So I had contact with the Antipodes devices at workshops,
because Markus likes to do his demonstrations with them.
When Markus asked me a few weeks ago that there would be new Antipodes MusicServer soon, my curiosity was aroused.
I then exchanged views with his partner Torsten several times.
When finally the new big one Antipodes K50 music server

https://antipodes.audio/antipodes-music-servers.php https://www.hifi-advice.com/blog/rev...-music-server/
https://www.fairaudio.de/test/antipodes-s30-und-k50-musikserver/

became available in Germany and Torsten was able to gain initial experience in his high-quality private facility,
it quickly became clear that Antipodes could obviously move the previous tonal limitations in the music server area.
My further research in the international area confirmed Torsten's first experiences!
So I decided at short notice to integrate the Antipodes K50 into my system.
Thanks to three SATA slots there were 2x Samsung 8TB SSD (RRP together approx. 1,700 EUR) quickly assembled.

The device has been with me for a short time so that I can familiarize myself with it.

I will write about my first experiences and more about Antipodes in the next post.
(as Antipodes was a not so well known brand for me)

IMG_4663.jpg
 
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shakti

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Antipodes was founded in 2004 by Mark Jenkins in New Zealand, initially primarily as a hi-fi cable manufacturer.

In 2009 the focus shifted more and more towards music servers, which currently only represent the product portfolio.

Here are a few thoughts from Mark Jenkins on music servers:

"An important decision a high-end audio manufacturer must make is whether to sell based on the technology they use or the quality of sound they deliver. This is especially true for music servers, where computer technologies are constantly evolving and in marketed well by the IT press. The problem is that some advances in computer technology improve sound quality and some advances in computer technology decrease sound quality. Some simple examples are that most advances in motherboard chipsets improve sound quality, which However, most advances in interfaces (such as SATA and USB) affect sound quality, because technologies are aimed at providing computing power for entering numbers and searching for data, rather than improving the sound quality of music servers. Antipodes made a decision, eh it can compete with its sound quality than with the list of technologies used. Because of this, we don't list the specific details of RAM, Mips, GHz, etc. We're not doing this to hide anything. We do this because, when judged by the specifications we publish, we are distracted towards improving those specs rather than sound quality. Antipodes is an audio company, not a computer company, so our values are about sound. We choose to be judged by the sound quality we deliver rather than the specifications we publish "

If you look at the structure of the K50 from the inside, it makes a cleanly designed and manufactured impression:

Antipodes_K50_IMG_1789_550pix.jpg

The Antipodes K50 basically consists of 2 devices, the music server and the music player.
The separation with Antipodes goes so far that both devices in the network are assigned their own IP address.

Antipodes_AMSv3.0_My_Antipodes_Main_550pix.png


Roon can then be selected (among other things) via the user interface of the server, so that the K50server is set up as a ROON core. The corresponding software is already installed and only needs to be clicked on. This operating window also gives access to the data manager, the external CD drive (optional) and the memory management.

Antipodes_AMSv3.0_Server_Apps_550pix.png


With me there will only be Roon, so I won't be able to say anything about the other playback options.
The Antipodes K50 can output the music in a variety of ways.
The most obvious is the route via the "special", ie galvanically decoupled Ethernet interface.
The Antipodes uses a LAN cable to contact a streamer or a "Roon Ready" device.
This then takes place in a special Roon proprietary data format.

The next format provided is USB, which is also specially prepared.
From the point of view of Antipodes, however, both data formats are not suitable for high-quality playback or as a high-quality interface to a DAC. Both interfaces are specified for computer requirements and accordingly also transmit artifacts / interference that you want to keep out of a DAC.

In this respect, the K50 prepares the classic digital transmission formats AES / EBU and SPDIF from the existing data.

This takes place in an elaborately designed module, which subjects the signal (or the clock) to a reclocking and dejitter process. The Antipodes K50 is equipped with an SPDIF in RCA and BNC as well as the AES / EBU output in XLR.

A modern I2S interface in HDMI format is also available.

Since this interface is not standardized, it can be assembled to different manufacturer profiles (which I cannot check because I do not use a suitable DAC) This interface can be taken to extremes by synchronizing the K50 through the integrated Clock output.

In the actual server connection area, you can connect 2 external USB hard drives, which are recognized immediately and transferred to the central data filing as a memory expansion. An external CD drive can also be connected here.

Antipodes_K50_IMG_1730_550pix.jpg


For me, the DAC is connected to the Brinkmann Nyquist II DAC via USB, Ethernet and AES / EBU cable, but I'm interested in how the sound differences are noticeable. I use 3x Wireworld as a cable. My curiosity about the first sounds is huge, but I was recommended that I first copy my data to the SSD hard drive before reinstalling Roon from my backup.

If I actually need about one day per 1TB of data in my home network, then I'll be busy copying for about two weeks before I can listen to music ... Why doesn't it all go faster ...
 
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shakti

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K50 Specifications
CoolingPassive Fanless Silent
CaseCNC Machined From Solid Alloy
Direct Stream Ethernet OutputYES
USB Audio 2.0 Output- PCM to 32bit/768kHz

- DoP to DSD512

- Native DSD to DSD512
S/PDIF OutputOn RCA and BNC

- PCM to 24bit/192kHz

- DoP to DSD64
AES3 OuputOn XLR

- PCM to 24bit/192kHz

- DoP to DSD64
I2S OutputOn HDMI

- PCM to 32bit/384kHz

- DoP to DSD256

- Native to DSD512
Optional Music StorageEasy Self-Installable Without Tools

- 3 Bay Slide-In

- Up To 24TB
Hardware ModulesV5.6H For Server Apps

V5X For Player Apps

R1I Reclocker
Power SupplyInternal - 3 x HSL80
AC PowerSwitchable

- 110-120VAC 60Hz

- 220-240VAC 50Hz
Width445mm (17.5in)
Depth370mm (14.5in)
Height120mm (4.7in)
Weight16kg (35lb)
WarrantyReturn To Seller - 3 Years



On request, Markus (CM Audio) sent me some additional information about the new Antipodes music servers:

"Antipodes K and S series music servers

V5.6H mainboard (K50 Server and K40 Server)


Physically, it's the same board as the V4H that was used in the Antipodes CX. Its audio performance has benefited significantly from the new ISM tuning. The V5.6H is used in the K50 and K40 and is the main reason the K50 and K40 are the best sounding Antipodes music servers. As for performance, this board can convert a CD resolution music file to DSD512 with a single CPU core using the Roon DSP. It has a further 5 real processor cores in order to be able to execute other functions at the same time as playback, which makes it very versatile and gives it the necessary leeway for operating the server apps.


V5.2H mainboard (K30 server board and S40 server and player board)

This is a new board with the new ISM coordination, which has the same single-core performance as the V5.6H board, but with fewer processor cores. This board is a "premiere" - the first Antipodes board which is ideally suited for both server applications and player applications. The V5.2H board has two cores and two virtual processor cores. If the playback solution is kept relatively simple, this board gives you much of the power of the V5.6H and can operate without overheating problems as long as it stands free to allow the heat to dissipate.


V5X mainboard (S30 server and player board, K30 player board, K50 player board)

This is a new board with the new ISM vibe that is a bit more powerful and sounding better than the V4X board used in the Antipodes EX. In terms of performance, this board can up-sample CD music files to DSD256 using the Roon DSP, but it requires Roon parallelization to use all of its cores. Like the V4X, the V5X offers good performance for server applications, but exceeds the performance required for player applications such as Roon Ready or Squeezelite.


R1i Reclocker Board (K50 and S20)

This is a new reclocker board with the input electronics completely isolated from the reclocker and output electronics. This means a very significant improvement in sound quality compared to the Antipodes P2 Reclocker which could be used for the EX and CX.


HSL80 power supply (three in K50 and one each in K40 and K30)

The power supply scheme used in the HSL80 and HSL50 is responsible for a large part of the sound quality improvements over the previous CX and EX models. The HSL80 is grossly oversized and is used in the K50 which uses three HSL80s. The music servers K40 and K30 each use an HSL80.


Server applications


The server apps organize your music files and streaming services. Even if you are only listening to streaming services, having your music served locally to the player application will produce better sound than relying on a streaming service as a server application. The server application streams the files to the player application. Examples are Roon Server or Squeeze Server. The server apps can be installed in parallel and run on all Antipodes models of the K and S series.


Player applications

The player app receives the streamed signal from the server app and converts it into a digital audio signal. The quality of the data stream received by the server app has a significant influence on the quality of the digital signal generated by the player application. Examples of player apps are Roon Ready, Squeezelite or AirPlay. With the exception of the K40 (on which only server apps run), the player apps can run on all models of the K and S series. Only one player app can be active at a time to optimize the output signal of the player app. The player apps can easily be changed via the configuration menu in the web browser.



Antipodes music server K50


The K50 uses the V5.6H board for executing server applications, the V5X board for executing player applications and the R1i Reclocker Board for perfect processing of the digital signal. Each of the three boards is powered by a dedicated HSL80 power supply.
 
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shakti

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after a week of copying data, the time had finally come, I could Antipodes K50 music server put into operation.

Means that I was the first to rebuild Roon from my backup.
Compared to last time, Roon even remembered my Tidal Abo Password this time.
My favorite albums were also back in the appropriate folder very quickly.

I have the K50 over - Ethernet - USB - AES / EBU connected to my Brinkmann Nyquist II DAC so that I can compare the individual connections in interaction.

The comparison with my Oracle DC drive, which is connected to SPDIF, serves as a reference point to my previous music servers.

First of all, I would like to say that no music server has yet managed to match the sound quality of this CD drive.

All digital cables used are of the corresponding Wireworld Platinum quality, so that the cable influences are minimized as far as possible.

On the advice of CM-Audio, I set the Antipodes to Squezelite as a player, which probably sounds better than the Roon interface itself.

First I let the K50 play over the ethernet connection.

The first sound impression is good and confirms my previous Antipodes experience that these devices belong to the dynamic and forward-playing devices. My Innuos Zenith III / Innuos Phoenix clock played from memory via USB but not much worse, which the cross check with the CD drive confirmed. Obviously, Ethernet is not the preferred input on my Nyquist DAC. Compared to the original CD in the Oracle CD drive, the version ripped in WAV format played significantly more pale over the K50 LAN connection. I suspect that this behaves significantly differently with devices such as the Linn Streamer, as these are designed for LAN as the main entrance. Accordingly,


I didn't bother with the LAN route and switched to USB.

To do this, I chose USB_brinkmann as the output path on the Antipodes user interface. Now it got exciting, the comparison to the Oracle CD drive took place at eye level. The tonal alignment of the two signal sources became obvious. Compared to that, the K50 played a lot more energy in the bass range as well as in the fundamental range. This signature ran over all the pieces heard. But since I have tuned the Oracle CD drive very neutrally over the years, I found this to be discoloring on the K50. Accordingly, I took the CD playback as the "master" and first optimized the setup. If the K50 stood on its original feet on the HRS M3x base until now, it played with significantly more contoured and more precise resolution when 3x HRS Nimbus feet are placed between the HRS base and the K50 base. My attempts with different feet, e.g. Alu Pulsar Points or Cardas Myrtle blocks changed the sound, but not in the desired direction. In terms of tone, it remained with the somewhat "fatter" playback compared to the Oracle drive.

Accordingly, I have taken care of the power cabling. In principle, I like to use the power cables from NBS on the mostly very lean and clean playing digital components, so Oracle, Brinkmann and Antipodes are connected with NBS Black Label power cables. Since the NBS cables do not always fit well, I was already able to determine the Audionet Stern with my current preamplifier, so I got a couple of power cables ready to finally arrive at the Wireworld Platinum power cable, similar to the Stern. With this I find it difficult to distinguish the playback from the Oracle CD drive from the WAV copy on the SSD hard drive. I haven't come that far with any other music server in terms of sound, it's fun that way!


Next I looked at the output board called "Digital Audio" by Antipodes.

To do this, I had to select this from the output path in the Antipodes user interface.

Now the I2S, AES / EBU and SPDIF connections as well as a clock output are available.

At the start I compared the two AES / EBU and SPDIF connections, because I wanted to decide on the optimal one in conjunction with the Nyquist DAC. In terms of sound, I couldn't hear any difference in my setup, but accordingly I stayed with the AES / EBU and left the Oracle CD drive connected to the SPDIF connection.

During a brief comparison of the two connections, it became clear to me that the K50 has made significant gains again via the digital audio interface.

In a direct comparison to the CD drive, this became even clearer. The sound of the K50 now leaves the Oracle CD drive behind.

Tonally (luckily) nothing has changed. The difference lies primarily in the more specific spatial representation. If musicians have played in my room before, you get the impression that with the K50, the recording room comes to the fore, or the recording room becomes noticeable in my room. In this form, I usually only know this from my analog playback chain.

The room becomes deeper and wider without the musicians leaving their position there is just more air around this.

Once you get used to this spatial impression, it becomes clear that the level of micro details has also increased, small head movements on the microphone are easier to understand, and the reverberation of drum cymbals is longer and more realistic.

Percussive elements in the music are precisely reproduced, ie touch noises, actual sound, decay. The whole thing without letting the music drift into the analytical. The context of the music remains and you tend to listen to individual pieces, which is not necessarily a matter of course when streaming music (at least for me).

Now I switch to the DSD format, because I'm interested in whether the USB interface catches up when I transfer DSD natively to the Nyquist. With AES / EBU this is converted into a 24/176 PCM signal.

But even here my preference for the digital audio interface and the AES / EBU connection remains.

This is interesting for me insofar as I always liked the native DSD of the Innuos Zenith III (via USB) more than converting the DSD signal to PCM.

When I was listening for a long time, I noticed a minimal roughness in the high frequency range, so I continued to work on the position of the HRS Nimbus feet in order to finally arrive at 4x HRS Nimbus feet. Most of my devices prefer 3 feet, now the K50 probably the 4.

I also calmed the housing cover with the small Artesania damper, which brought a little more calm to the sound. Not really serious, the K50 housing is well built, but now I don't want to miss the Artesania damper anymore.

The last thing I did on Friday evening was the Tidal Integration. This is also great, although yesterday I had a bad tidal day, the sound quality was significantly worse than, for example, this Sunday morning. Accordingly, I will deal with the tidal sound again on another day compared to the SSD hard drive.

As an interim conclusion, I can definitely say that the K50 is a great device for me if.

I didn't think that music servers could cause such a jump in playback.

Until now, my focus in digital playback has always been primarily on the DAC.

The K50 definitely shifts my future approach.
 

shakti

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I’m curious how your Tidal quality can change from one day to the next?
should be another thread :)
If I start the observation and analysis here, the thread will be around Tidal and not about K50.
 

iaxel

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Oct 25, 2016
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What is the price of the K50?
It’s a shame the Brinkmann’s weak link (no pun intended) is the ethernet link.
It would be interesting to compare the K50 vs Innuos over the network, functioning as a Roon server.
 

shakti

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What is the price of the K50?
It’s a shame the Brinkmann’s weak link (no pun intended) is the ethernet link.
It would be interesting to compare the K50 vs Innuos over the network, functioning as a Roon server.
In Germany the K50 retails for 16k eur (without SSD on board)
The Brinkmann is mainly a DAC only with a Streamer ad on functionality.
I do use the Brinkmann Ethernet connection mainly for system/software updates.

I owned the Innuos Zenith MKIII / Innuos Phoenix clock Music Server before and had the Innuos Statement Server at home.

Innuos is nice, specially the Statement a little on the warmer side.
But I definitely prefer the K50 performance. But others might prefer the Innuos Statement tone.

Currently I am listening a lot to "Kaki King" ,
their impulsive way of playing acoustic guitar ist just perfect to underline the performance the K50 can do.

 
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Vienna

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I’m curious how your Tidal quality can change from one day to the next?
i am curious too. I didnt manage to improve it with Aurender and Emm DA2.
 

Vienna

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It doesn't. Sometimes the mind changes. Tidal digital watermarking is always there.

I totally agree. Once I thought that it was my system that was underlining TIDAL’s digital signature. At my friend‘s system (full MSB Select) Tidal‘s digital watermarking is there too.
 
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Vienna

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I would like to listen to a Lampizator system once though
 

Vienna

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Indeed Qobuz SQ is superior to Tidal but still is sounding digital
 

bazelio

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Indeed Qobuz SQ is superior to Tidal but still is sounding digital
I've also long since switched to Qobuz. This happened in a wave since 2018. In fact, earlier this year, Jay-Z was offering a 20% discount in order to get former subscribers to return to Tidal. Thanks ... But no thanks.
 
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Vienna

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MQA improved the sq, but still Tidal is sounding like an empty galley pot
 

matthias

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I have been cooperating with the company CM-Audio for several years,
Thanks to many joint workshops, I know the owner Markus very well with regard to his sound preferences.
I keep getting tips and suggestions from Markus, an excellent digital expert. So I had contact with the Antipodes devices at workshops,
because Markus likes to do his demonstrations with them.

I think it is fair to mention that CM-Audio is the German importer of Antipodes Audio.

Matt
 

philoouu

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@shakti

Thanks for your detailed reports on the K50.
I am following this product for some time now; I run Roon on my Mac mini and connect by ethernet to my Roon Ready Integrated Devialet Expert; I am really interested about upgrading to K50 but I am trying to find out how a dedicated music server, especially the K50 would improve my system.

You mention you have a relatively large music library? How fast is it? I am wondering how much is the memory on the K50; I cannot find the specifications of the processor/memory. I know that Roon needs power and memory so I would like to clarify this point.

Thanks and regards
philoouu
 
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shakti

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May 9, 2015
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Cologne, Germany
@shakti



You mention you have a relatively large music library? How fast is it? I am wondering how much is the memory on the K50; I cannot find the specifications of the processor/memory. I know that Roon needs power and memory so I would like to clarify this point.
My library is around 20.000 records, many in WAV format. 10% is coming from Tidal. Response is fast, means it is the same speed I was used to get from my Innuos Zenith MKIII (SSD as well). Since I have all of the music on SSD, this is working fine.
Before I was using external Melco 4TB servers as NAS with rotating HD, this was in direct comparison much slower.

Antipodes does not communicate their specifications as company Philosophie, they do not see the relationship between processor power and sound quality, so they want to be out of the race.

I am not a digital specialist, I do not care for a detailed component list in a Music Server,
as long, as it makes music to my expectation.

Thanx to Markus from CM-Audio, that I had the chance to compare the Innuos Statement and the Antipodes K50 to find a MusicServer which fits my personal need for quality and my personal taste.

There are many other good MusicServers out there and everybody who is using a MusicServer without being a digital native will agree, that the Importer/Dealer/Manufacturer Service behind is important as well. My personal decision for the K50 and the former Innuos Zenith was as well driven from the available good Service I can get in Germany for both brands.
 

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