Taiko Audio SGM Extreme : the Crème de la Crème

With respect to the Taiko Extreme how do you connect it to your DAC

  • USB

    Votes: 33 75.0%
  • Ethernet

    Votes: 7 15.9%
  • Both USB and Ethernet

    Votes: 2 4.5%
  • AES/EBU

    Votes: 2 4.5%
  • Dual AES/EBU

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Other

    Votes: 4 9.1%

  • Total voters
    44

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
...the Extreme has landed, sitting comfortably on the double plywood platforms while resting on the minus-k...

...sounds pretty sweet starting the warmup and breaking in phase...

A big shoutout to Emile and Bob@Rhapsody, thanks to you two!!

For me it is a remarkable product

It has changed the way I listen to music
 

dminches

Well-Known Member
Oct 22, 2011
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There are software like https://www.ntlite.com/ that allows you to install win 10 without unnecessary process. These processes are not just turned off but not installed in the first place
Interesting. I didn’t know that was available. Thanks.
 

sbo6

Well-Known Member
May 19, 2014
938
84
85
Round Rock, TX
Here is a quote from Romaz post 2745 earlier on

Over the years, I have tested various SSDs (SATA II vs SATA III, SLC vs MLC), storage transmission buses (SATA vs PCIe) and even SATA cables and have found that they each have a particular sonic signature that is audible. The fastest SSDs have the lowest latencies but also generate a high frequency noise that I find fatiguing with long term listening and cannot be completely ameliorated with SATA filters or by cleanly powering the SSD. Just because you power an SSD with a high quality linear power supply doesn't prevent that SSD from generating high frequency noise. This is apparently not noticeable by all given how commonly SSDs are used in music servers today but I have purposely avoided using an SSD as an OS drive (which is incessantly being accessed by the OS even during music playback) in any of my builds since late 2018. I have even gone so far as to use a compact flash as an OS drive but as these are very high latency storage devices, they create as many problems as they fix and proved to be a less than ideal solution. In late 2018, through the reporting of others, I began using Optane drives for the operating system and these drives have proven to be the ideal solution. Optane drives have very low "RAM like" latencies but also have a noise spectrum that is more like RAM than an SSD which is to say they do not cause the same fatiguing HF noise. It was quite refreshing to find that the Extreme uses an Optane drive for its OS.
Thank you for one person's experiments with cables and hard drives, but since you stated earlier that, "The audible noise in a playback system coming from RF emissions transmitted by operating SSD's is a well known phenomena" I was hoping for links to well known / documented collateral and not a copy of one earlier post.
 

vhs

Member
Dec 12, 2019
22
16
5
Thank you for one person's experiments with cables and hard drives, but since you stated earlier that, "The audible noise in a playback system coming from RF emissions transmitted by operating SSD's is a well known phenomena" I was hoping for links to well known / documented collateral and not a copy of one earlier post.
From my personal experience with the storage of music files, I would say that HDD provides darker background as compared to SSD IMHO regardless of sata cable and power supply.

Disable the write-caching of HDD in Windows environment would further lower the noise floor.

Roon Server HDD.jpeg
 

sbo6

Well-Known Member
May 19, 2014
938
84
85
Round Rock, TX
From my personal experience with the storage of music files, I would say that HDD provides darker background as compared to SSD IMHO regardless of sata cable and power supply.

Disable the write-caching of HDD in Windows environment would further lower the noise floor.

View attachment 61560
My experience is the opposite - moving from a HDD to an SSD provided slightly better high end detail and a lower noise floor. Using a LPSU with the SSD provided even further high end detail and delineation of space.

Also, IMO and IME the access times to the OS drive with a well optimized OS are so little and infrequent that it's meaningless. What matters most again IME is clean power. That being said, it may be true that higher speed SSDs' internal clock may cause additional noise, but I've never experimented with it, hence my question about information WRT the post stating that it's "well known". Well known = characterization on forums which may / may not be true.

In addition, the reported benefits with Optane may be more to do about the omission of the SATA bus interface and the overhead associated with it (SATA Phy, protocol overhead, maybe even trace length) versus PCIe. What would be a more fair comparison would an M.2 SSD versus Optane. If the compare is as apples to apples as possible I'd bet it's a stalemate.
 

EuroDriver

Well-Known Member
Sep 17, 2015
367
192
73
Monaco
Thank you for one person's experiments with cables and hard drives, but since you stated earlier that, "The audible noise in a playback system coming from RF emissions transmitted by operating SSD's is a well known phenomena" I was hoping for links to well known / documented collateral and not a copy of one earlier post.
Back in the early fall of 2015, the very competent guys at Pink Faun told me this. They were building their own SATA cables. However, the best sounding SATA cables could not handle the data rate, and there were data dropouts
 
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EuroDriver

Well-Known Member
Sep 17, 2015
367
192
73
Monaco
My experience is the opposite - moving from a HDD to an SSD provided slightly better high end detail and a lower noise floor. Using a LPSU with the SSD provided even further high end detail and delineation of space.

Also, IMO and IME the access times to the OS drive with a well optimized OS are so little and infrequent that it's meaningless. What matters most again IME is clean power. That being said, it may be true that higher speed SSDs' internal clock may cause additional noise, but I've never experimented with it, hence my question about information WRT the post stating that it's "well known". Well known = characterization on forums which may / may not be true.

In addition, the reported benefits with Optane may be more to do about the omission of the SATA bus interface and the overhead associated with it (SATA Phy, protocol overhead, maybe even trace length) versus PCIe. What would be a more fair comparison would an M.2 SSD versus Optane. If the compare is as apples to apples as possible I'd bet it's a stalemate.
Every component has its sonic signature, even the solder ! The guys at Berkley don't like any EU allowable solder formulations, so they don't sell their DAC in the EU

Every software process has its sonic signature too. The sonic presentation job that Emile is able to deliver with the Extreme is a balanced assembly of literally over a hundred of these sonic signatures that come from hardware, software and vibration management
 

Sablon Audio

Industry Expert, VIP Donor
May 22, 2015
757
308
203
Back in the early fall of 2015, the very competent guys at Pink Faun told me this. They were building their own SATA cables. However, the best sounding SATA cables could not handle the data rate, and there were data dropouts
I tried an aftermarket sata cable in my SGM 2015 with minimal gains. It was rather long (and stiff) compared to the very short (and flexible) one originally fitted, which may have offset some of the potential.
 
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Taiko Audio

Industry Expert
Feb 10, 2017
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It would be interesting to compare this 1TB hybrid Optane H10 to other NVMe drives
Surely worth a shot if you were to combine your operating system and music storage on the same drive.

If Asus WS C621E SAGE were actually able to support Optane DCPMM, we might also "sacrifice" some DIMM slots to give them a try while replacing 10-core Xeon Silver 4114 with 8-core 4215. Though having fewer cores might not be such a good idea.
It does not currently, though that might just be a firmware revision away. It should be useable as persistent OS storage which could be an interesting application.

Alternatively, a completely diskless SGM Extreme (w/ RAMdisk) that's able to access NVMe-oF storage remotely could be another avenue
We tried that, it's a trade off between increasing memory bus activity and using more RAM and not needing an OS disk. It works out negatively in the Extreme though.

NVMe-oF is definitely interesting technology.
 

Taiko Audio

Industry Expert
Feb 10, 2017
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I have a general question for you Emile.

Component break-in. I have noticed that in my system even the most mundane of items like a DC cable greatly affects the sound during its break-in period. Do you find a similar thing, that replacing pretty much any item in your system then requires time to settle in and stabilise before sounding its best.
If so, how long on average do items take to burn in; which items are the worst in terms of time required, which are the fastest and how long do they take?
It all takes time, cabling I'd say 5-10 days to know how it's going to turn out. Computer hardware has highly variable sound for around 5 days. Capacitors take quite a long time, the most in my experience, around a week to know how they are going to end up sounding, full burn in probably 2-3 months. Mechanical settling after transport is several days, even just moving stuff around on site comes with at least a 2 day settling time in my experience.

Do you fully condition items before evaluation? Given how many items you’ve obviously evaluated in building the Extreme, I wonder if you have developed any special way to handle the break-in phenomena, or maybe it’s simply not as intrusive in your system as it is in mine.
I do not judge anything unless it's been powered on for at least 5 days. You can sort of develop a feeling for how components are going to end up sounding, if it has potential or not, but even with all that in mind I can sometimes be surprised by something turning around after 10 days of use.

I do have an audiodharma cable cooker and an electronic DC load which can apply different types of loads I use from time to time to speed up individual component burn in.
 

Taiko Audio

Industry Expert
Feb 10, 2017
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@Taiko Audio I also have a question for Emily. Given that no DIY'ers can attain the holy grail set by SGM extreme, is there any tips/tricks you'd like to share with the community that would help us to improve our sound, till we can afford to buy a SGM that is (doesn't hurt to dream)!

I understand that a lot of optimization/engineering/tweaking that went to SGM may not always be as beneficial stand alone in a DIY server. But some pointers would be really helpful for the rest of the us to try something.

To start with I was thinking of OS. High powered DIY server these days are using - Windows Server (with AO), AudioLinux and Euphony. There has been a big exodus from WS to Euphony in recent months. However, I'm still sticking with Windows so far. I use Windows Server 2016 (I found it better than WS2019) with the latest AudiophileOptimizer.

Can you shed some light what windows user can do to optimize it -
a) Is Windows 10 better than Windows Server?
b) AO is no longer necessary?
c) How to install only the required service and what services?
d) What utility (for example Process Lasso) to use etc?
I did share quite a bit of information scattered through this thread, it may be worth to skim through my post history.

a) Not straight out, we get better performance from Windows 10 but we do extensively modify it
b) On the Extreme AO (Audiophile Optimizer) would produce negative results, that has nothing to do with AO, but everything to do with how we configure the system
c) That's a lot of trial and error, we do take a different approach, we start out with Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC which is a stripped down version of Windows for devices requiring stable performance over time, like cash registers, industrial appliances etc. It is only available to OEM system builders. This is actually a lighter weight system then Windows Server "out of the box", but we do subsequently modify it, this is quite common for OEM system builders and there are a wide range of tools available to do so. A lof of components we do not need for music playback cannot be removed or disabled after Windows has been installed, so we remove them from the installation media before they are installed. Do be prepared to allocate considerable time before attempting this yourself as removing something can lead to all sorts of unpredictable results. Our current software installation probably took hundreds of reinstalls to get where we are now. A faster way is to look around on GitHub, where several people have shared scripts to create a stripped windows installation media, do read the feedback first if these are operating reliably.
d) Process lasso is a nice and easy tool to use. Although you can assign processes allocations and priorities manually, and/or put them in a start-up script, it's not very expensive and a quick way to test, try and view settings.
 

Taiko Audio

Industry Expert
Feb 10, 2017
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...the Extreme has landed, sitting comfortably on the double plywood platforms while resting on the minus-k...

...sounds pretty sweet starting the warmup and breaking in phase...

A big shoutout to Emile and Bob@Rhapsody, thanks to you two!!
Excellent, that is a considerable platform stack :)
 
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Taiko Audio

Industry Expert
Feb 10, 2017
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There are software like https://www.ntlite.com/ that allows you to install win 10 without unnecessary process. These processes are not just turned off but not installed in the first place
Yes there are several commercial tools available, winreducer.net is another. These provide a graphic interface to create the scripts for modifying the windows installation media.
 

rando

Well-Known Member
Sep 22, 2019
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45
As a hopefully welcomed means to educate those new to the idea of "lite" versions of W10, outside of this thread.

With the full expressed understanding what Emile and others do is years beyond. You will not attain magic results on par with them. What a few hours and some understanding can do to your general use internet machine is nothing short of outstanding though.
 
Aug 18, 2016
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@Taiko Audio Thank you so much for your helpful feedback. I'll go through your other posts to get a summary of possible improvements the rest of us can play with.

Regarding LTSC, the binary is available to download. The problem is license key, which can be found if looked around on ebay or some other means or if someone has a MSDN subscriptions. I guess the challenge is to do a lot of trial and error to determine what minimal installation works for a music server. I hope someone tries that shares with the community.
 

howiebrou

Well-Known Member
Jun 29, 2012
873
463
150
...the Extreme has landed, sitting comfortably on the double plywood platforms while resting on the minus-k...

...sounds pretty sweet starting the warmup and breaking in phase...

A big shoutout to Emile and Bob@Rhapsody, thanks to you two!!
How about a few peak photos! ;)
 

romaz

Well-Known Member
Oct 7, 2015
57
298
83
Can you please explain how you verified the high frequency noise you reported from SSDs? Was it audible and / or measurable?
My statements about SSDs are purely subjective and have been well documented on another site. SSD-related noise has been reported upon by others including the likes of Paul Pang, @Marcin_gps, @lmitche (on AS), and @Superdad and so I will give credit where credit is due. As some are aware, MacOS allows you to boot from an SD card and so back in 2017, this is what I was doing with my modified Mac Mini and the drop in harshness versus an SSD was astonishing. Even with the SSD powered by a battery or an LPS-1.2, the harshness (while less) was very much still there.

Going from a Samsung EVO SATA III SSD to Samsung EVO NVMe SSD lead to better immediacy but even more harshness and so there was an obvious tradeoff. I found that the harshness was not worth the improved immediacy and so I found NVMe SSD (via either M.2 or PCIe) to be the worst possible option.

I began using an Apacer SLC compact flash drive as an OS drive and this was better than an SD card and resulted in the lowest noise floor but this presented challenges as some operating systems (like Windows Server) will not boot from a CF drive. Ultimately, the biggest downside of flash media is they are very high latency drives and while the presentation is very relaxed, I feel like I am sitting way back in the balcony. If I had my way, I would be on the stage with the performers as I crave immediacy.

It is the same problem with SATA SSDs. The slower SATA II SSDs have less harshness than the faster SATA III SSDs with the SLC SATA II SSD sounding less harsh than the MLC variety. For some time, I was using the Intel X25-E as my SSD of choice. I experimented with various SATA cables and they made a difference and my preference was for the Pachanko SATA Reference. I also liked what the SOtM SATA II filter offered. Powered by an LPS-1.2, the noise floor was very low but once again lacked immediacy.

Optane drives are based on Intel's 3D XPoint technology and while not exactly memristor storage, according to @lmitche, it behaves similarly requiring no refresh activity to hold data. With traditional SSDs, there is constant refresh activity. This is why Optane, in theory, is so quiet -- it is quiet until you access it -- and it is so fast that the windows of activity are much smaller. Regardless of what is happening underneath, I have compared M.2 Optane versus M.2 NVMe SSD (Samsung EVO) and the Optane matches the immediacy of the Samsung EVO but does not have the harshness. These differences are not necessarily stark if the motherboard is being powered cleanly, however, to my ears they are fairly easily audible and over a span of a few hours, there is fatigue. Feel free to do the experiment yourself. It's not expensive to do.
 

romaz

Well-Known Member
Oct 7, 2015
57
298
83
SGM Extreme - 2 week experience: Network

It has actually now been nearly 4 weeks since I have had my Extreme but due to a busy work schedule, it has been difficult to find time to post until now. My observations on the impact of the network with regards to the Extreme remains a work in progress as Emile has my dual SOtM switches in his possession. Marcin has also agreed to send me the M12 Gold for evaluation. Based on @hols glowing report on the Melco S100, I now feel compelled to also evaluate this switch and so consider what I say to be very preliminary. As always, YMMV.

I agree with Emile in that the impact of the network seems less with the Extreme than with other servers but I also agree with the findings of @CKKeung , @hols, and others that the impact of the network is still quite significant and worth pursuing. To offer perspective, I am finding the impact of my network tweaks thus far to roughly equal the improvement I am getting from a set of CS2 1.5 footers. In other words, ignore the network at your own peril.

Router

I have explored routers a fair amount and while I have not yet tried the Ubiquiti EdgeRouters that @nenon reported on, thus far, I have found greater impact by replacing not just the router but my entire modem/router combo. After trying a few that were compatible with my ISP provider (Comcast/XFinity), I settled initially on the Netgear N300 back in late 2017. It has dual gigabit ports, used a low power (and presumably low noise) CPU, and could be powered with a 12V/1.5A external PSU. I sent it to SOtM and had its main clock and Ethernet clock replaced and you can see the 25MHz and 54MHz clock taps on the back of this router/modem in the following photo :

Router rear.jpeg

Powered by my Paul Hynes SR7, grounded by a Setchi grounding block (via USB), and with the RG-6 internet feed transformer-coupled, I found the improvement to be modest (not large) and believed its performance was likely being compromised by the nearly 50 feet of Ethernet cabling that separated the modem/router from my server. I tried wifi and with an LPS-1.2 powering a wifi receiver, this resulted in an improvement confirming my suspicions about the harm that the 50 feet of cheap Ethernet cabling was causing. I found a bigger improvement by bringing my router to much closer proximity of my server (within 3 feet). To accomplish this, I had to run RG6 cable from my equipment closet to where my server is. It was not hard to do and the improvement was worthwhile but the overall improvement, even with this modem/router connected to my Mutec REF 10 master clock, was still not dramatic.

Recently, I upgraded my internet bandwidth from 200Mb/s to a full 1000Mb/s which forced me to upgrade to a different modem/router since this router maxed out at 300Mb/s of bandwidth. I purchased the following ARRIS SURFboard SBG8300 modem/router which is capable of a full gigabit of Internet bandwidth but it was with reluctance since my old modem/router had its clocks replaced and this one didn't:

Arris router.jpg

My fears were unfounded because even without any clocks replaced, the SQ improvement with this modem/router is quite a bit better than the Netgear. Improved dynamics and a much bigger sound stage are what really stand out. Powered once again by my SR7, the improvement here is not so subtle.

Network Switch

With this ARRIS modem/router in close proximity to the Extreme and with this modem/router powered so cleanly, does an intermediary switch still matter? The only intermediary switch I have on hand at the present time worth commenting on is the EtherREGEN from Uptone Audio.

ER switch.jpeg

With the ER mounted on top of a G5 titanium disk and with a Setchi panzerholz grounding box sitting on top to further mitigate vibration, like Emile found, I did not find the ER to improve that much with vibration control. I tried connecting this Setchi to the ER via the ER's ground lug and did notice minor improvement with a copper connection to the Extreme but no discernible improvement when fiber is used.

Regarding power, I agree with what others have stated. The cheap SMPS that comes with the ER is not the best way to power this switch and it may not be a noise issue but rather a voltage sag issue. With the SMPS, dynamics takes a hit. Power it with an LPS-1.2 and there is only minimal (if any) improvement and I believe I know why. Power this switch with a 12V DR rail from an SR7 and this switch improves quite dramatically. Dynamics are much improved with greater separation but with a caveat which I will explain later.

As for why the LPS-1.2 doesn't perform well with this switch (and most switches), my guess is it is because this switch draws too much current (0.8A @ 12V) and while this is within the capability of the LPS-1.2, it is not within its optimum power range. It's like powering low efficiency speakers with your amplifier cranked up to max (or close to max). There's simply no headroom and the LPS-1.2 is probably struggling to maintain voltage (again, this is my guess but that's how it sounds to me). I have experienced this before with the LPS-1.2 With components that draw <500mA, the LPS-1.2 works VERY well but more than this and especially as you approach 1A, you are almost better off with any other PSU (imo). If you are an Uptone fan (as I am), you would be better off to power this switch with their JS-2. Another excellent option is the new SR4 Turbo from Paul Hynes. At 400 GBP, according to Paul, it has roughly 60% of the performance of a DR SR7 and has a continuous 2A rating and so it is well suited to drive a switch. Just like the LPS-1.2, however, if your component draws anywhere close to the continuous 2A rating of the SR4, the SR4 isn't going to perform very well.

Now for the caveat. When I first got the ER, like everyone else, my router was feeding the ER via the "A" side (1000Mbit) and the ER was feeding the Extreme via the much vaunted "B" side (100Mbit). To be honest, even with the ER powered by my SR7, I was a bit underwhelmed. Midrange was rendered beautifully and there was better smoothness but transients were soft, the attack was quite dull, and the sound stage felt considerably smaller. Ok for vocals recorded in a studio but not ok for large orchestral music. To be bluntly honest, I was hearing more good things coming from a Sablon Ethernet cable than I was from the ER and I was preferring going direct from my modem/router to the Extreme via the Sablon cable.

When Emile told me his ER was sounding better than my dual SOtM switches that he had in his possession, I was quite surprised but then he also told me he didn't care for the "B" side of the ER at all and much preferred using ONLY the "A" side. He was further connecting to the Extreme with fiber using these new SFP transceivers that he found to be much better than the Startech transceivers. I went ahead and switched to the "A" side and agree fully with Emile on this. At least with the Extreme, the "A" side, even when using purely copper (and not fiber) sounds better. It is a touch less warm and more coarse than the "B" side but transients are more fully and dynamically expressed. The problem that remained is the sound stage still sounded more confined compared against directly connecting the modem/router to the Extreme.

Before fully giving up on the ER, I decided to give these new SFP transceivers that Emile liked a try and I believe I have found them. This is the link that Emile provided and neither of us were sure these were the actual transceivers he likes because these are quite a bit less expensive at only $30 each.

https://planetechusa.com/product/mgb-tlx-mini-gbic-lx-module-20km/

I was skeptical that these inexpensive transceivers could rescue the ER but somehow, they do. They are indeed more dynamic. They also sound stage larger than the Startechs and yet, they don't sound mechanical which is how Emile described the Finisar 10G SFPs that I had also considered trying. With these transceivers, I now am preferring having the ER in the chain as opposed to going directly from modem/router to Extreme.

As has been reported by others, even with the ER connected to the Extreme via fiber, the quality of the copper Ethernet cable that connects the modem/router to the ER still makes a difference. An inexpensive Blue Jeans Cables CAT6A cable sounds fine in isolation but in comparison to either a SOtM dCBL-CAT7 cable or the Sablon Ethernet cable, the BJC's midrange sounds recessed and treble sounds smeared. A Ghent Belden CAT6 with JSSG360 shield fares only slightly better than the BJC. A WireWorld Starlight CAT8 is the worst of the bunch as this cable sounds fatiguingly bright. The SOtM CAT7 sounds very liquid and smooth and casts a spacious sound stage while the Sablon Ethernet renders beautiful textures and is the most resolving of all the cables I have here. Among these cables, I find the Sablon to sound the most natural but also the most resolving.

Sablon Ethernet.jpeg

More to follow...
 

romaz

Well-Known Member
Oct 7, 2015
57
298
83
SGM Extreme - 2 week experience: JCAT cards

As previously stated, one of the luxuries that the Extreme provides is that it has several free PCIe slots allowing for future expansion as necessary. This also allows for easy A/B testing.

Extreme PCIe slots.jpeg

According to Emile, slots 1, 2, 6, and 7 are tied to CPU 1 while slots 3, 4, and 5 are tied to CPU 2. In his listening tests, he found that the Optane card is best suited for slot 3 (CPU 2) from a SQ perspective and so I did not attempt to move that card. He also found that the SFP network card sounded best when tied to CPU 1. I tried moving this SFP card from slot 2 (CPU 1) to slot 4 (CPU 2) and I have to agree, when tied to CPU 1, the SFP card sounds smoother and less coarse and so credit once again to Emile for leaving no stone left unturned. When I compared network cards, I kept them tied to CPU 1. Same thing with USB cards.

As previously reported, the stock dual RJ45 Ethernet ports on the Extreme sound very good. In the absence of any comparisons, I could happily live with the SQ from these ports and so I don't blame anyone who doesn't wish to go beyond but what I will say is that the Extreme is capable of much more. With the EtherREGEN connected to the SFP network card using the inexpensive SFP transceivers versus the EtherRegen connected to either of these RJ45 Ethernet ports even with the Sablon Ethernet cable, I am finding the fiber connection to be superior and easily worth the small asking price of the ER + cheap SFP transceivers.

JCAT Net Card FEMTO

How about the JCAT Net Card Femto? The answer is more complicated. Compared against the stock Ethernet ports of the Extreme, with the JCAT card powered by an SR7, no question, the JCAT card is better and the improvement is not so subtle to my ears. It is more dynamic, more expansive sounding, and timber is smoother and richer sounding. To all that I have subjected to A/B testing, with no exceptions, everyone has preferred the presentation of the JCAT card.

With JCAT vs fiber, this is where things get tricky. The ER along with these cheap SFP transceivers feeding the SFP card is sounding very satisfying at this time. Against the JCAT card being fed by either the ER or directly by my modem/router, the SFP connection has the lower noise floor and better resolution while the JCAT card sounds airier, has more tonal body, and has the bigger sound stage, especially when fed directly by the modem/router.

With Mahler's 1st Symphony, with the JCAT card, I am really liking Thierry Fischer's DXD version:

Mahler Thierry Fischer copy.jpg

This is a modern recording that I just love. It is clean, dynamic, and with a very accurate sense of scale and was originally recorded using a DXD recorder and so this DXD file is essentially an unprocessed version of the master. These types of recordings, imo, represent the future.

With fiber, I am preferring Bruno Walter's version more:

Mahler_Sym_1_Walter.jpg

Ignore the smaller size of the above thumbnail photo as that has no relevance. Bruno is the naturally more expressive conductor but casting that aside for the moment, the Bruno Walter version (1961) is a tape transfer to DXD by HDTT that has a very dense tonal quality to it that sounds a touch slow and strident on the JCAT card but nicely adds body to the fiber card. All things considered, this presentation on the fiber card is "to die for." You could see where this leads. Certain recordings may sound better one way versus the other and so there is no clear winner here.

Adding to the complexity, because I have no idea how things will sound with the SOtM sNH-10G, M12 Gold, or S100, all of this will all have to be assessed again at a later time.

JCAT USB Card FEMTO

The stock USB port on the Extreme is probably the best sounding stock USB port I have heard. According to Emile, this port is based off of the ASM3142 chipset that he really likes. In any of my previous builds, especially my last build utilizing a certain ASUS mini-ITX board, the stock USB ports sounded atrocious making something like the JCAT USB card a necessity. With the Extreme, I could once again see why no one would care to try and improve upon this. Here, the JCAT USB card provides an alternative voicing that may not be to everyone's taste but it is to mine. The stock USB port on the Extreme sounds more incisive where the JCAT card sounds fuller and is harmonically richer. The LPS-1.2 does a better job powering this card than the JCAT NET Card FEMTO and the standard SR4 by Paul Hynes is a step better but it is with a DR SR7 rail where the benefits of the JCAT USB card are most fully realized.

USB cables

I'll cut to the chase here. Not surprisingly, USB cables make a big difference. Having been part of many USB cable shootouts, I found the Intona Ultimate USB cable to be the highest resolution cable I had yet heard with no apparent harshness. Some found this cable to sound a touch sterile or mechanical but not me. I really like this cable.

Due to @spiritofmusic's prodding, I reached out to Mark at Sablon and asked to demo his new USB cable and I was quite surprised to find that his new cable somehow matched the resolution of the Intona Ultimate (not a small feat) while providing texture and air that the Intona lacked (although I hadn't realized it was lacking until I heard the Sablon). At a fraction of the price of the Intona Ultimate, this new Sablon is a NO BRAINER.

More to follow...
 

dminches

Well-Known Member
Oct 22, 2011
1,128
253
180
Roman, keep it coming. Great reading about your findings.
 

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  • What’s Best Forum is THE forum for high-end audio, product reviews, advice and sharing experiences on the best of everything else. A place where audiophiles and audio companies discuss existing and new audio products, music servers, music streamers and computer audio, digital to audio converters, turntables, phono stages, cartridges, reel to reel, speakers, headphones, tube amplifiers and solid state amplification. Founded in 2010 What's Best Forum invites intelligent and courteous people of all interests and backgrounds to describe and discuss the best of everything. From beginners to life-long hobbyists to industry professionals we enjoy learning about new things and meeting new people and participating in spirited debates.

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