Sitting Taiko SGM extreme with Wadax Atlantis Server

ShawnZH

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Sep 20, 2020
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In the last few days of 2021, I had the chance to upgrade my racks from Artesania to CMS Olympus, while a demo Taiko SGM extreme arrived at home with the upgraded standalone USB card. It gave me an interesting experience to try different configurations with my streaming gears.

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ShawnZH

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Sep 20, 2020
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I am using Vinyl, CD and streaming sources. Since this thread is about the streaming, here's the list of gears I'm using/experiencing:

Server: Wadax Atlantis Server, Taiko SGM Extreme
Renderer/NAA: Bricasti M5
Digital transporter: Auralic Aries G2.1
DAC: Metronome Kalista
Switcher: Melco S100+local DIY, Melco fed by a linear power supply
Net cable: Voodoo, Audio Quest Diamond, Wire World Platinum
USB cable: Intona Reference
AES cable: Nordost Odin 2

Auralic arrived the latest. Before Auralic came, with those gears, I can put together 7 configurations:

A. Wadax standalone with its USB output
B. Taiko SGME standalone with its onboard USB output
C. Taiko SGME standalone with its standalone USB output
D. Wadax Core+Bricasti M5 (USB or AES/SPDIF)
E. Taiko SGME Core+Bricasti M5 (USB or AES/SPDIF)
F. Wadax Core+Taiko SGME USB output as renderer
G. Taiko SGME Core+Wadax USB output

When Auralic arrived and settled, the SGME was returned to the dealer, therefore I didn't have the chance to use Auralic as a renderer to Taiko SGME. So I have 2 more configurations:

H. Wadax Core+Auralic Aries as renderer
I. Auralic standalone with USB or AES directly into DAC
 

ShawnZH

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Sep 20, 2020
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To put forward the most important observation:

F works as the best sounded configuration, using Wadax as core and SGME as the renderer. It is an insanely expensive combo but it did bring the SQ into a very high level. It is interesting that if I reverse the core and renderer by using SGME as the core, Wadax as the renderer, the performance is not as good.

Standalone Wadax VS Taiko, I can tell Taiko wins my ears more. Wadax still sounds very good: warm, analog, booming in bass (all good traits for a streaming device). Taiko brings a different signature: transparency, spacious, dark background, details and decay. I'd say it sounds quite differently from Wadax with a different characteristic, especially with its standalone USB card, which brings those features into a higher level.

Considering the price difference between the 2 servers, I call it a fair competition.

If only listening to B and C, I am already very happy. But when switching to F, it really impressed me with a vaster sound stage, a more purified transparency and 3D popping. I always compare the streaming with my Kalista CD transport+DAC, which is a classical reference and not easy to beat. With F, my brains just stopped comparing, I just felt that the streaming solution is developing into a new direction of sound quality, a more mordern sounded, fast and swift, transparent (i repeatedly mention this) but not rigid at all, even with a touch of warm.

I like what I heard and I do see a future of a digitalized streaming solution can create.
 

ShawnZH

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Sep 20, 2020
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D and E are experiments to see if using the same renderer, which core works better. It is interesting that on this section, C gives a better performance. It might be that Wadax designs a better core, or M5 works along better with Wadax than Taiko. I tend to believe Wadax builds very good core, since among F and G, F is clearly a winner.

My old comparison went to A and D, I found that in a Roon setup, separating core and renderer seems to be a good idea. Wadax Core+M5 sounds better than a standalone Wadax, but the difference is marginal. Considering the cost of an M5 is relatively humble, I add an M5 to boost a bit of the performance.

Again coming back to F and G, I believe Wadax does a good job on its core while Taiko has a fantastic USB output. The combo is like a Ferrari sport car, with a super cool driving experience. It reminds me a mordern trend in the classical music interpretation and recording: reducing scales of an orchestra band, giving good spacious separations. Those newer recordings of Berlin Philharmonic by Abbado and nowadays Petrenko are trending like this, differentiating from the old classical sound by Furtwangler, Bohm, even early year Karajan.
 

Mike Lavigne

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 25, 2010
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Shawn,

many thanks for the effort to do a compare like this. your write-up is very helpful. the idea of one server as a Roon Core and another as a Renderer being best is a concept i never considered. we can only guess as to why that might happen. i'm sure there will be considerable speculation.
 

ShawnZH

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Sep 20, 2020
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I didn't have the chance to try TAS, the in-house software from Taiko. I'm a heavy Roon user and I misunderstood the TAS as a pure local file player and didn't realize it can integrate Qobuz and Tidal. Pity I didn't try it before I returned the Taiko. I read quite some comments that the TAS sounds better than Roon.

I do believe it is true, though I didn't believe it for a long time that an app can bring SQ differences. This recent conviction came from the use of Auralic Aries G 2.1.

I always likes a transporter with a screen which give me a better feeling when looking at the cover of the record I'm playing. That's the reason I wanted an Aries in the first place. I planned to use it as a renderer to Wadax core, without expecting it can improve the SQ.

When I replaced M5 by Auralic Aries, there was no good or bad surprise. They just sounded similar to my ears. Just the graphic gives me a good pleasure in playing the streaming musics.

However, after a few days of Roon, I randomly opened up the DS software developed by Auralic, not only using it to set up the unit but also using it as the player. I immediately noticed the improvements it brought to the Roon playback. The DS+Auralic gives a quite analog sound, fuller bodied, quite involving. I cannot say it easily beats Wadax+Auralic or even Wadax standalone but it comes to a similar level. I can live with a single Auralic with no complaints. It misses a bit of details and scale compared to Wadax (both separate and standalone) but the dark and analog sound it brings to the playback kinda compensates what is lost.

I do appreciate the Auralic Aries G2.1 when it is used with DS apps. This also "convinces" me that if I tried TAS on Taiko, it should have brought the performances of those combos above into a higher leve. By all means, Roon is designed to work with a lot of platforms while DS or TAS are specialized and customzied to their brands.

I heard from Edward Hsu of Taiko that the XDMS will be soon available on SGME. I belive that'll bring new improvements.
 

ShawnZH

Well-Known Member
Sep 20, 2020
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Shawn,

many thanks for the effort to do a compare like this. your write-up is very helpful. the idea of one server as a Roon Core and another as a Renderer being best is a concept i never considered. we can only guess as to why that might happen. i'm sure there will be considerable speculation.
Thanks Mike.

In fact this idea didn't come to me as a planned combo. When I just set up the Taiko with my own Roon account and Qobuz account, somehow the software didn't work till I reboot the Taiko. Before the reboot, I couldn't properly use the streaming of Qobuz when setting Taiko as the Roon Server. So I had no choice but to use Wadax as the server. It ended up with a super performance. I reboot the Taiko and everything goes normal, that I can use Taiko stanalone.

True that very rare chance for people to try separating Taiko as a renderer. At the cost, nobody wants to waste the money only to use it partially. But as I shared, I didn't use TAS, therefore I might have missed something. With TAS, the thing might be different. I'd have to find out when I can afford my own Taiko, and hopefully the Wadax is still around. But considering the combo cost, it is just crazy.
 

Mike Lavigne

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 25, 2010
12,583
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Thanks Mike.

In fact this idea didn't come to me as a planned combo. When I just set up the Taiko with my own Roon account and Qobuz account, somehow the software didn't work till I reboot the Taiko. Before the reboot, I couldn't properly use the streaming of Qobuz when setting Taiko as the Roon Server. So I had no choice but to use Wadax as the server. It ended up with a super performance. I reboot the Taiko and everything goes normal, that I can use Taiko stanalone.

True that very rare chance for people to try separating Taiko as a renderer. At the cost, nobody wants to waste the money only to use it partially. But as I shared, I didn't use TAS, therefore I might have missed something. With TAS, the thing might be different. I'd have to find out when I can afford my own Taiko, and hopefully the Wadax is still around. But considering the combo cost, it is just crazy.
i think your out-of-box thinking does allow us to view these pieces more objectively. i hope you do get another round with these pieces to get even deeper truths. again, thanks.

TAS is a step up over Roon, and the new XDMS even more i think.
 

exupgh12

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Jul 30, 2019
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Very interesting, thanks for sharing your observation.
 

Armsan

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Jan 28, 2016
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Thanks Mike.

In fact this idea didn't come to me as a planned combo. When I just set up the Taiko with my own Roon account and Qobuz account, somehow the software didn't work till I reboot the Taiko. Before the reboot, I couldn't properly use the streaming of Qobuz when setting Taiko as the Roon Server. So I had no choice but to use Wadax as the server. It ended up with a super performance. I reboot the Taiko and everything goes normal, that I can use Taiko stanalone.

True that very rare chance for people to try separating Taiko as a renderer. At the cost, nobody wants to waste the money only to use it partially. But as I shared, I didn't use TAS, therefore I might have missed something. With TAS, the thing might be different. I'd have to find out when I can afford my own Taiko, and hopefully the Wadax is still around. But considering the combo cost, it is just crazy.
I didn't have the chance to try TAS, the in-house software from Taiko. I'm a heavy Roon user and I misunderstood the TAS as a pure local file player and didn't realize it can integrate Qobuz and Tidal. Pity I didn't try it before I returned the Taiko. I read quite some comments that the TAS sounds better than Roon.

I do believe it is true, though I didn't believe it for a long time that an app can bring SQ differences. This recent conviction came from the use of Auralic Aries G 2.1.

I always likes a transporter with a screen which give me a better feeling when looking at the cover of the record I'm playing. That's the reason I wanted an Aries in the first place. I planned to use it as a renderer to Wadax core, without expecting it can improve the SQ.

When I replaced M5 by Auralic Aries, there was no good or bad surprise. They just sounded similar to my ears. Just the graphic gives me a good pleasure in playing the streaming musics.

However, after a few days of Roon, I randomly opened up the DS software developed by Auralic, not only using it to set up the unit but also using it as the player. I immediately noticed the improvements it brought to the Roon playback. The DS+Auralic gives a quite analog sound, fuller bodied, quite involving. I cannot say it easily beats Wadax+Auralic or even Wadax standalone but it comes to a similar level. I can live with a single Auralic with no complaints. It misses a bit of details and scale compared to Wadax (both separate and standalone) but the dark and analog sound it brings to the playback kinda compensates what is lost.

I do appreciate the Auralic Aries G2.1 when it is used with DS apps. This also "convinces" me that if I tried TAS on Taiko, it should have brought the performances of those combos above into a higher leve. By all means, Roon is designed to work with a lot of platforms while DS or TAS are specialized and customzied to their brands.

I heard from Edward Hsu of Taiko that the XDMS will be soon available on SGME. I belive that'll bring new improvements.
Hello Shawn,
What a pity that you couldn’t try the Taiko as standalone and with TAS. You would be surprised regarding the fantastic level of all your gear. And yes, the control point app also makes a difference. For instance, here, the control point for TAS in Android device is even slight better than the iPAD one.
Cheers.
 

divertiti

Well-Known Member
Jan 12, 2021
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Shawn,

many thanks for the effort to do a compare like this. your write-up is very helpful. the idea of one server as a Roon Core and another as a Renderer being best is a concept i never considered. we can only guess as to why that might happen. i'm sure there will be considerable speculation.
Mike, indeed Roon has always stated that separate core and renderer will provide the best sound quality, in fact it's their #1 recommendation on how to get best sound. The theory is that no matter how good the core computer is, it's still a complex electronic machine that generates much more noise than a renderer. Therefore it makes sense to isolate through a well thought-out network setup. Of course once you get to the level of the Extreme, only personal experimentations will tell for sure.
 

divertiti

Well-Known Member
Jan 12, 2021
208
189
113
I didn't have the chance to try TAS, the in-house software from Taiko. I'm a heavy Roon user and I misunderstood the TAS as a pure local file player and didn't realize it can integrate Qobuz and Tidal. Pity I didn't try it before I returned the Taiko. I read quite some comments that the TAS sounds better than Roon.

I do believe it is true, though I didn't believe it for a long time that an app can bring SQ differences. This recent conviction came from the use of Auralic Aries G 2.1.

I always likes a transporter with a screen which give me a better feeling when looking at the cover of the record I'm playing. That's the reason I wanted an Aries in the first place. I planned to use it as a renderer to Wadax core, without expecting it can improve the SQ.

When I replaced M5 by Auralic Aries, there was no good or bad surprise. They just sounded similar to my ears. Just the graphic gives me a good pleasure in playing the streaming musics.

However, after a few days of Roon, I randomly opened up the DS software developed by Auralic, not only using it to set up the unit but also using it as the player. I immediately noticed the improvements it brought to the Roon playback. The DS+Auralic gives a quite analog sound, fuller bodied, quite involving. I cannot say it easily beats Wadax+Auralic or even Wadax standalone but it comes to a similar level. I can live with a single Auralic with no complaints. It misses a bit of details and scale compared to Wadax (both separate and standalone) but the dark and analog sound it brings to the playback kinda compensates what is lost.

I do appreciate the Auralic Aries G2.1 when it is used with DS apps. This also "convinces" me that if I tried TAS on Taiko, it should have brought the performances of those combos above into a higher leve. By all means, Roon is designed to work with a lot of platforms while DS or TAS are specialized and customzied to their brands.

I heard from Edward Hsu of Taiko that the XDMS will be soon available on SGME. I belive that'll bring new improvements.
Shawn, thanks for sharing your journey. Auralic is a great piece, if you decide to stay with it, may I suggest looking at the power supply upgrade from Germany. I have the Aries G2 and it provided a big improvement to the ease, polish and dynamics of the sound.

 
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matthias

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microstrip

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Shawn,

many thanks for the effort to do a compare like this. your write-up is very helpful. the idea of one server as a Roon Core and another as a Renderer being best is a concept i never considered. we can only guess as to why that might happen. i'm sure there will be considerable speculation.

Sorry for my ignorance, but is this similar to using the JPLAY dual PC setup - with dedicated Audio PC fully optimised for music transport and Control PC is your music server (where your music files are stored)?
 

7ryder

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Jan 31, 2015
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I believe so. Antipodes does this with their K50 model - two PCs in one box, with one the server and the other the player that can be accessed by using the digital outs. I'm trying it this way with my Linn Organik KDSM now - using SPDIF instead of Ethernet, I'm breaking in a cable, so no decision yet on which sounds better.

There are also some pictures on Pink Faun's Facebook page where someone is using two of their 2.16x servers in a dual PC mode (one server, the other player).
 

Taiko Audio

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Feb 10, 2017
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Sorry for my ignorance, but is this similar to using the JPLAY dual PC setup - with dedicated Audio PC fully optimised for music transport and Control PC is your music server (where your music files are stored)?

Yes, but in this case you use 1 server as the Roon Core and the other as the Roon Endpoint, the Endpoint/Transport mechanism is called Roon RAAT (Roon Advanced Audio Transport). In the Extreme the Roon Core and Roon Endpoint software runs on different CPUs as there are 2 CPUs. TAS works different again as it completely runs on 1 CPU while the other CPU handles Operating System duties.

To provide a schematic overview (changed to a screenshot as WBF does not support TAB spacing):

Capture.JPG

You could already hypothesize some theories on the results of the OP's experiences from this.
 
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ShawnZH

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Hi @ShawnZH ,

Thank you for reporting on this comparison. The Kalista has not been added to our USB driver support as we've had no customers using one yet. Did you install a Vendor (Kalista) supplied ASIO driver for it or did you use the generic windows support ("wasapi" and/or "system output" in Roon)?
Hi Emile (I guess),

Roon recognize my DAC as Amanero Technology USB Driver 1.0.62. It is a WASAPI driver. Guess this is not the best driver?
 
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