State-of-the-Art Digital

Jesus R

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May 6, 2016
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Joe, the SGC/SystemeOptique combination is on my radar. I have read a couple of user reports concluding the Innuos Zenith Mk3 just shades things, and there's the possibility of better things w the Innuos Phoenix USB reclocker as well.
The main reason I may forgo SGC/Rendu is the doubling of boxes compared to Innuos w attendant need for more pwr cords, and quadrupoling of box count/sets of footers w added LPSs. The Zen/Zenith is a one-box solution.
If I may add...with our system we decouple the server and the endpoint on purpose to separate the noise component from the clean component over the network. Any noisy computer, NAS, server, or the internet (only one is needed) can stream to a Rendu. The Sonore Signature Rendu is also a very high end single component with built in power supply. While you can add countless gadgets before and after, as some suggest, it's not necessary at all to get great sound.
 
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marslo

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As I see critics regarding Audio Aero gear I would like to say that I am a happy owner of La Fontaine no 50 since around 2012. And I will keep it.
It has only one minor bug in my system but it can be easy solved - when feeding another DAC from W20 I have to disconnect the power cord for 10 seconds and restart the unit.
Apart from that it’s flawless . It has very reliable Esoteric UMk 5 cd/sacd mechanism and high quality boards from Anagram Technologies and a very good DAC.
It was my main PCM DAC for years, first with notebook and Jplay for a few month, then with Aurender S10 , eventually replaced by W20.
Before I bought my W20 I was very close to buy Vivaldi DAC but I liked more W20/ La Fontaine DAC combo than S10/ DCS Vivaldi.
Before I switched to files I used Arc Ref 5 and Esoteric X-05 cd players.
When DSD format was introduced to the market I purchased my first Lampizator - DSD only DAC equipped with Duelund Cast Pio caps.
For PCM files ( mainly ripps of my cds but also hires form HDTracks under this time) I used La Fontaine with Entreq Konstantin usb cable and Minimus Silver grounding device. For native DSD files - Lampizator.
Then I decided to upgrade to B7 , Lukasz Fikus kindly implemented my Duelunds from DSD DAC to B7.
DSD improved very much but I still liked more PCM from La Fontaine.
Only after Lukasz introduce the R2R PCM board the PCM playback from Lampizator reached the level of La Fontaine.
Then one day Lukasz came with Pacific to my place - i needed only 2 hours to order the new DAC, it was so much better.
Especially the PCM improved a lot and now I like native PCM as much as native DSD.

Native is a key world for me. I do not like conversion and upsampling , I try to get always the files closest to their native form.
It is why I prefer Pacific over DCS which is for me also a SOTA DAC but based on different concept- the RING DAC.
I could live with Vivaldi though. The best reproduction of sacd I have heard was during Warsaw AVS - Vivaldi stack was playing Sacd from Reference Recordings with Britten The Young Person’s Guide.
Never heard physical cd/ sacd sounding any better.

Now I come to my key point - it is a big difference in sound quality between streaming ( I tried Qobuz hires for a month, use Tidal hifi with MQA as a 3 rd source), spinning cd/ sacd and playing native PCM and DSD files with the DAC.
In my personal ranking:
a/ regular Tidal hifi streaming 5/10
b/ MQA Tidal and Qobuz hires streaming 6-7/10
c/ cd’s played with La Fontaine as a transport and Pacific DAC over BNC 7-8/10
d/ sacd’s played with La Fontaine as a sacd player - 6-8/ 10
e/ native PCM hires ( up to DXD )and native DSD ( up to 256 fs) over unpowered usb with Pacific SE: 8-10/10

In my audiophile journey I also listened to SGM 2015 server with T+A DSD DAC 8 and HQ Player transcoding Qobuz hifi to DSD 512 fs ( at Geoffrey’s Sound Gallery) and LDMS with switch feeding my Pacific over RJ 45. I had also the opportunity to try with my Pacific The Superkomputer from Lampizator.

I buy native PCM and DSD files on regular basis from : Nativedsd , Hyperion, eclassical, Qobuz, HDTT, Sound Liaison and from time to time also physical cd’s and sacd’s.

For me the combo W20/Pacific DAC playing native files be it PCM or DSD is the best source of music.

I keep vinyl and analog rig for sentimental reasons, I would rank my analog playback 6-10 depending on the recording.

PS I am sorry for the long post but I do think that there is no one state- of the - art DAC and the format for everyone. Moreover resolution and quality of native recordings matters.
 
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Empirical Audio

Industry Expert
Oct 12, 2017
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Native is a key world for me. I do not like conversion and upsampling , I try to get always the files closest to their native form.

I used to believe that native playback was always better, until I was able to achieve really low jitter PCM. Now I literally cannot tell the difference. If the upsampler uses a good algorithm like the TI SRC4192 and the signal has really low jitter, like a few picoseconds, I don't believe it makes any difference in SQ. Previous to this chip, the upsamplers did color the sound. Not the case anymore.

Same thing with software upsampling. With the right algorithm, it is not only indistinguishable, it might be better.
 
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marslo

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I used to believe that native playback was always better, until I was able to achieve really low jitter PCM. Now I literally cannot tell the difference. If the upsampler uses a good algorithm like the TI SRC4192 and the signal has really low jitter, like a few picoseconds, I don't believe it makes any difference in SQ. Previous to this chip, the upsamplers did color the sound. Not the case anymore.

Same thing with software upsampling. With the right algorithm, it is not only indistinguishable, it might be better.

My concerns about HQ Player and upsampled files are not regarding technical side of the reproduction.
In reality, Qobuz streaming transcoded to DSD 512 fs sounded cristal clear and resolved.
But in the same time all recordings sounded the same and emotionally washed out.
I have had the impression of listening to the hardware and the software and not to the music.
I think the big advantage of files is the possibility of listening at home to the version recorded in studio - like Studio Master PCM files or native DSD recordings without post mastering. And they sound different to each other.
This is why I switched to files instead of buying next cd/sacd players.
For me the process of burning digital music on polycarbonate and retrieve music from the silver disc with more and more sophisticated machines is now replaced by the possibility of listening to studio recordings almost directly.
This is why upsampling or transcoding - even with the most advanced algorithms - is imho the false solution and this is why I prefer the native playback.
 
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astrostar59

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The 432 EVO server are also excellent, they are centred on high end USB output with a dedicated USB board and clock, that also has it's own linear power supply. 2 external linear power supplies actually. A lot of the Innuos units have shared power off the mother board, and USB tagged off the back of the mother board. Not that great an idea TBH. The 432 EVO AEON model for example sounds better IMO to the Innuos Statement.

I Find the 432 EVO AEON is top level sound quality and priced at 5K euros, highly competitive. Frederic who owns the company is a software genius.
 

acousticsguru

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Feb 17, 2014
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My concerns about HQ Player and upsampled files are not regarding technical side of the reproduction.
In reality, Qobuz streaming transcoded do DSD 512 fs sounded cristal clear and resolved.
But in the same time all recordings sounded the same and emotionally washed out.
I have had the impression of listening to hardware and software and not to the music.
I think the big advantage of files is the possibility to listen at home to the version recorded in studio - like Studio Master PCM files or native dsd recordings without post mastering.
This is why I switched to files instead of buying next cd/sacd players.
For me the process of burning digital music on polycarbonate and retreaving music from the silver disc with more and more sophsticated machines is now replaced by the possibility of listening to studio recordings directly.
This is why upsampling or transcoding - even the most advanced algorithms - is the false solution and this is why I prefer native playback.

You're describing my exact feelings about HQ Player upsampling, a synthetic, artificial sound that's less engaging. Spent whole weekends at Christoph's place comparing filters, also tried a number at home in direct comparison to a dCS Upsampler, as I expected the HQ Player upsampling would be an inexpensive replacement, in a nutshell, I was not only open-minded about it, but wrongly assumed that if the one sounded good to me, the other would have to also. Not at all.

Greetings from Switzerland, David.
 

marslo

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Did you listen to a Taiko Extreme?
Thanks

Matt

No, unfortunately not.
As far as I know Taiko Extreme is not upsampling the files but optimising the native playback.
But the price is prohibitive to me.
 

acousticsguru

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Feb 17, 2014
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No, unfortunately not.
As far as I know Taiko Extreme is not upsampling the files but optimising the native playback.
But the price is prohibitive to me.

I only know the combination of Lampizator Pacific plus Komputer, but it's clear from all the configurations I've heard that the Amanero-USB-board Lampizator uses isn't exactly what I'd call an "immune" input, so it really thrives on a great server.

Greetings from Switzerland, David.
 

marslo

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I only know the combination of Lampizator Pacific plus Komputer, but it's clear from all the configurations I've heard that the Amanero-USB-board Lampizator uses isn't exactly what I'd call an "immune" input, so it really thrives on a great server.

Greetings from Switzerland, David.
My Pac has an optional clock and improved PS of the Amanero board, an efficient upgrade.
 
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asiufy

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The 432 EVO server are also excellent, they are centred on high end USB output with a dedicated USB board and clock, that also has it's own linear power supply. 2 external linear power supplies actually. A lot of the Innuos units have shared power off the mother board, and USB tagged off the back of the mother board. Not that great an idea TBH. The 432 EVO AEON model for example sounds better IMO to the Innuos Statement.

I Find the 432 EVO AEON is top level sound quality and priced at 5K euros, highly competitive. Frederic who owns the company is a software genius.

Allow to make a correction: from the $4,300 Zenith mk3 on up, the Innuos products have a dedicated USB/clock board, with a dedicated tap into the linear PS. Seems in-line in terms of price with the 432 EVO AEON at 5k euro.
It's fine that you like one product over the other, but I feel that if you're going to compare, state all the facts correctly.
 
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acousticsguru

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Feb 17, 2014
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My Pac has an optional clock and improved PS of the Amanero board, an efficient upgrade.

I did hear the latest upgrades in comparison to the original Pacific, quite an improvement again. What I meant when I said it's not exactly immune is that it reacts more noticeably if not severely to e.g. using a great server versus a laptop, or to different USB cables, than the USB input implementations in other DACs, just something aspiring Lampizator owners need to be aware of, that's all. In the end, it's the net result that counts, and with a great server, I agree wholeheartedly, it does sound great.

Greetings from Switzerland, David.
 
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microstrip

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A simple question to Innuous specialists : the quality of the rip is the same for all models? A file ripped with a ZENmini will have the same sound quality as a file ripped with a Statement?

Or more expensive models have better mechanisms with improved bit ripping and correction features?
 

joaovieira

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Feb 16, 2013
257
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Brazil
APL Hifi DNP-SR streamer & DSD-MR tube dac. That combo sounds resolving, natural, dimensional & non-fatiguing. Outstanding digital, and there is a new streamer coming out in the Master Reference (MR) series in 2020. Here is a link to a review by Audiophilestyle.

you got me curious about APL. I am ordering both. Maybe now I settle on digital for some years.
 

RussR

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Dec 31, 2017
28
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It's very likely, Howie. The price uptick from Aussie on Tao's Antopodes gear is a little stiff, and I may regret lack of Roon Core if I go Lumin or Fidata etc.
And there is not one poor review yet on Innuos...it's the streamer at that sweet spot in the market that likely outperforms it's price point.
The issue in the UK is lack of choice of dac under £5k. Zenith and Chord Qutest or Hugo TT is reasonably easy to line up at multiple dealers. Exogal Comet and Lab12 dacs can be demoed, but not on Innuos. But choosing from MHDT Atlantis, Holo Springs, Schiit Yggy, APL DSD-AR, is more of a punt.
Anyhow this is kinda OT. No doubt I'll whittle choices down. Right now if I was gonna choose w no further ado, it would be Zenith w Yggy Unison 2 and a Sablon 2020 USB cbl, Innuos Phoenix reclocker and maybe EtherRegen at later date when the upgrade bug hits.
Antipodes is a New Zealand based company not Australian.
 
Jun 30, 2020
32
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Berlin, Germany
griggaudio.de
"State-of-the-art digital" is inextricably linked to the algorithms. Analogue becomes digital (recording) and again analogue (playback). Very high-quality mathematical models improve analog playback.

Which leads me to HQPlayer. I can understand the criticism voiced. The setting options are not self-explanatory and very complex. On the other hand, the algorithms are simply excellent.

In addition to the well-known possibilities of upsampling and format conversion PCM and DSD, in my experience you have to choose the right filters. My recommendation is to operate the DAC in NOS (non oversampling).

Choose a filter from the group poly-sync-lp (linear phase) to improve the space. They belong to the FIR filters and work in the time domain. Recommended for classical music and for music recorded in the "real world" (concert hall).

Or choose a filter from the group poly-sync-mp (minimum phase) to improve the transients. They belong to the MinPhaseFIR filters and are particularly suitable for rock / pop / electronics, as well as recorded in music studio.

It took me a long time to familiarize myself with the HQPlayer. But why should it be different digitally than analog? How much time and effort do owners of high quality turntables spend? Some try multiple tonearms. They regularly check azimuth adjustment, align the cartridge and wash Vinyl.

But with digital everything should work as soon as you switch it on? It's not like that! Hearing digital really well means a lot of work. ;)
 
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acousticsguru

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Feb 17, 2014
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"State-of-the-art digital" is inextricably linked to the algorithms. Analogue becomes digital (recording) and again analogue (playback). Very high-quality mathematical models improve analog playback.

Which leads me to HQPlayer. I can understand the criticism voiced. The setting options are not self-explanatory and very complex. On the other hand, the algorithms are simply excellent.

In addition to the well-known possibilities of upsampling and format conversion PCM and DSD, in my experience you have to choose the right filters. My recommendation is to operate the DAC in NOS (non oversampling).

Choose a filter from the group poly-sync-lp (linear phase) to improve the space. They belong to the FIR filters and work in the time domain. Recommended for classical music and for music recorded in the "real world" (concert hall).

Or choose a filter from the group poly-sync-mp (minimum phase) to improve the transients. They belong to the MinPhaseFIR filters and are particularly suitable for rock / pop / electronics, as well as recorded in music studio.

It took me a long time to familiarize myself with the HQPlayer. But why should it be different digitally than analog? How much time and effort do owners of high quality turntables spend? Some try multiple tonearms. They regularly check azimuth adjustment, align the cartridge and wash Vinyl.

But with digital everything should work as soon as you switch it on? It's not like that! Hearing digital really well means a lot of work. ;)

One could hardly spend more time on HQPlayer filters than my friends from the Lampizator fraction have done, whom I joined for a couple of weekends trying nothing but HQPlayer filters. Yes, they do sound different. Yes, we understand the differences. No, none of them sounds quite natural to me. And I've noticed the guys who've lived with HQPlayer for years now (I personally only tried it for as long as a free trial period, then went back to using the Daniel Hertz Masterclass media player, or the Mosaic app) pretty much gave up on its upsampling capabilities. But to each their own. Maybe there are DACs with with it works better, I don't know. The Denafrips seems like a interesting piece of gear, and one that I suspect like dCS may profit from being fed upsampled PCM, i.e. whether to DSD or PCM (remodulating DSD seems a bad idea to me) - I'd be curious to audition one, but then, I don't need a DAC.

Greetings from Switzerland, David.
 
Jun 30, 2020
32
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20
Berlin, Germany
griggaudio.de
Maybe there are DACs with with it works better, I don't know.

I agree that the DAC is important. For example, I don't like HQPlayer on DACs that have an ESS chip. Perhaps it is because the ESS filters cannot be bypassed.

In contrast, I have had very good experience with R2R DACs. For example Holo Audio Spring DAC or Denafrips Terminator DAC.

T + A even recommends the HQPlayer for DSD. They use for PCM Burr-Brown chips. DSD are converted native in 16 chips per channel. A demonstration with the T + A SDV 3100 HV DAC and HQPlayer was outstanding.

Greetings from Berlin

Gabriel
 

acousticsguru

Well-Known Member
Feb 17, 2014
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I agree that the DAC is important. For example, I don't like HQPlayer on DACs that have an ESS chip. Perhaps it is because the ESS filters cannot be bypassed.

In contrast, I have had very good experience with R2R DACs. For example Holo Audio Spring DAC or Denafrips Terminator DAC.

T + A even recommends the HQPlayer for DSD. They use for PCM Burr-Brown chips. DSD are converted native in 16 chips per channel. A demonstration with the T + A SDV 3100 HV DAC and HQPlayer was outstanding.

Greetings from Berlin

Gabriel

The Lampizator Golden Gate and Atlantic, with which we made most of those comparisons, used an R2R board at the time. The dCS Ring DAC, although it superficially looks like an R2R, is really a DSD-wide design. The filter differences sounded the same to me regardless, but like I said, that doesn't preclude compatibility with other DACs. Best to try with what one has at hand, which is why I like media players that offer a trial period. Ironically, the Daniel Hertz Masterclass media player that's probably the best available at least for PCM, will not work without a USB dongle, plus it's expensive, which I'm sure must make it unnecessarily hard to sell. Well, not my problem…

Greetings from Switzerland, David.
 
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joaovieira

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Feb 16, 2013
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Brazil
Well I am tired and not happy with Hqplayer and it’s dozen of filters. When I use most of them I am not truly satisfied. Even the bests don’t bring me the feel of natural.

I am changing my digital 100%.

APL dac and APL streamer connected by IS2 cable. I want to keep it simple, however in a high end level.

João.
 
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