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: 35 72.9%
  • Ethernet

    Votes: 8 16.7%
  • Both USB and Ethernet

    Votes: 3 6.3%
  • AES/EBU

    Votes: 3 6.3%
  • Dual AES/EBU

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Other

    Votes: 4 8.3%

  • Total voters
    48

seeteeyou

Active Member
Apr 6, 2015
20
11
33
Likes: Taiko Audio

wil

Well-Known Member
Jul 22, 2015
157
62
58
I don’t think they built this with specific sonic qualities in mind but Alex @Superdad And John should speak for themselves.

I haven’t tried using only “A” ports but I certainly will given the feedback from Emile and Roman.
Also, remember Emile, Romaz and Kris are all preferring the A port based on the eR feeding the Extreme. There may be a specific technical reason that the Extreme is going to work better with the A side in contrast to other servers, streamers, etc. I do recall Emile saying he thought the 100 mb B side might not perform well with the Extreme.

I think the eR is designed for the B side to be the output, but they do say it works in both directions-- but that the copper feeding the component before the dac (should be alone on whichever side).

I'm using the fiber from the A side to the Extreme and copper from the B side to the Mac mini Roon endpoint. Other A side ports go to a computer and Speaker DSP. This configuration has allowed me to take the Cisco Switch out of the system.
 

romaz

Well-Known Member
Oct 7, 2015
78
416
83
Ahh, and so the seeds of doubt are sown... I'll have to do another neurosis fueled blind listening test just to make sure I'm not missing something. But, I've had two friends (one particularly golden-eared) unable to discern anything either.

It's possible you are gifted (cursed?) with particularly sensitive hearing capabilities. I might have the same kind of sensitivity to visual light and color subtleties that my family, for instance, is completely blind to.
Comparative listening tests are not very fun and can be challenging to do but like anything else, if you can devise a methodology that works for you and if you do it enough, over time, it becomes easier to hear differences. For me, I think it's more about having a disciplined ear than a golden one.

With things that are obvious (like DVD vs BluRay), blind testing is not necessary. But with more subtle differences (like 24/192 vs DXD or cable differences), you do wonder sometimes if you're imagining the difference and so this is where I often go to blind testing. The problem with blind testing is that my memory is not very good and so if more than 30-60 seconds have gone by, it's possible I've already forgotten what I just heard and so the key for me is to not let more than 30-60 seconds or so go between A and B. This means that as I listen to A, I only listen to a very specific passage for 10-15 seconds before moving on to B, it's as much as my mind will allow for subtle differences.

Some people suggest you cannot assess much information in such a short period of time. I disagree. In my opinion, this is plenty of time if you're trying to assess only 1 quality and not multiple. For example, if you're trying to assess transient response such as the physicality of a drum strike, the sharpness of a trumpet, or the plucking of a guitar string, then focus on just that and not other things and quickly move on to B. Once you consistently lock in that A has better sound stage depth than B or that B has better treble extension than A, then you're done and you move on to the next quality that's important to you but once again, the key is being able to swap quickly between A and B.

With regards to the Mac Mini comparisons, I resorted to buying 2 of them which made rapid A/B testing much easier:

mac mini.jpg
 

romaz

Well-Known Member
Oct 7, 2015
78
416
83
Hi Romaz,

I am considering to upgrade to 1000Mb/s as well.
Did you compare several modem/routers and this Arris was the best sounding one?

Thanks

Matt
Here is my ISP provider's approved list of modems:

https://approvedmodemlist.com/comcast-xfinity-approved-modems/

As you can see, there aren't many combo modem/routers on this list that can do 1000Mb/s. I was not fond of the Netgear Nighthawk I tested once upon a time and so I went with the ARRIS. I'm pleased enough with the ARRIS that I bought to stick with it for now. While I'm sure I could improve it further by sending it to SOtM to have clocks replaced, I'm finding that this is not a high value thing to do and so I've decided to stay put. The greater gains are with the power supply.
 
Nov 22, 2018
70
16
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75
Great reports Romaz. I'm planning to buy an Extreme this spring to replace my Sonic Transporter and Lumin U1 Mini. In the meantime I'm gradually upgrading my network. i have an ARRIS modem and a Netgear Nighthawk 2.5 gig triband router with one band dedicated to the server. Both have Sbooster power supplies. I'm curious--what didn't you like about the Nighthawk?
 

romaz

Well-Known Member
Oct 7, 2015
78
416
83
Great reports Romaz. I'm planning to buy an Extreme this spring to replace my Sonic Transporter and Lumin U1 Mini. In the meantime I'm gradually upgrading my network. i have an ARRIS modem and a Netgear Nighthawk 2.5 gig triband router with one band dedicated to the server. Both have Sbooster power supplies. I'm curious--what didn't you like about the Nighthawk?
The Nighthawk I bought sounded a bit harsh compared against my low power Netgear N300, even with a better power supply.
 
Nov 22, 2018
70
16
8
75
Yes, I think I heard a bit of an edge when i installed it but the Sbooster seemed to cure that. I replaced a lower power Netgear with it because our house has a number of shear walls and the weaker Netgear wasn't doing wifi well enough. I thought about a mesh system but the idea of a dedicated band for the server appealed to me so I went with the AX12. Wifi is now NO problem.
 

adamaley

Well-Known Member
Apr 15, 2016
277
213
58
Minnetonka, MN
Wil

Your Lampi Pacific with its 300b tubes and your Luxman have a lot of 300b sonic magic, and thoroughly enjoyable for their bloom and tonal color. The noise floor of your system will not be as low as folks with mostly solid state equipment, so its not so surprising that you won't discern as large differences as folks with mainly SS systems when comparing the audible effects of different distributions of RF emissions coming off different components
I'm not sure this is accurate regarding the Lampi Pacific. Firstly, it uses a variety of tubes besides the 300B. Secondly, at least with my Golden Gate, 300B tubes can be used to voice the DAC to render it very quiet and revealing with the utmost resolution. All reports suggest that the Pacific is more matter of fact. I can't speak for the Luxman.
 

wil

Well-Known Member
Jul 22, 2015
157
62
58
Comparative listening tests are not very fun and can be challenging to do but like anything else, if you can devise a methodology that works for you and if you do it enough, over time, it becomes easier to hear differences. For me, I think it's more about having a disciplined ear than a golden one.

With things that are obvious (like DVD vs BluRay), blind testing is not necessary. But with more subtle differences (like 24/192 vs DXD or cable differences), you do wonder sometimes if you're imagining the difference and so this is where I often go to blind testing. The problem with blind testing is that my memory is not very good and so if more than 30-60 seconds have gone by, it's possible I've already forgotten what I just heard and so the key for me is to not let more than 30-60 seconds or so go between A and B. This means that as I listen to A, I only listen to a very specific passage for 10-15 seconds before moving on to B, it's as much as my mind will allow for subtle differences.

Some people suggest you cannot assess much information in such a short period of time. I disagree. In my opinion, this is plenty of time if you're trying to assess only 1 quality and not multiple. For example, if you're trying to assess transient response such as the physicality of a drum strike, the sharpness of a trumpet, or the plucking of a guitar string, then focus on just that and not other things and quickly move on to B. Once you consistently lock in that A has better sound stage depth than B or that B has better treble extension than A, then you're done and you move on to the next quality that's important to you but once again, the key is being able to swap quickly between A and B.

With regards to the Mac Mini comparisons, I resorted to buying 2 of them which made rapid A/B testing much easier:

View attachment 61721
I'm going to try your method. I've resisted it in that I've wanted to compare the presentation holistically, but with critical listening for subtlety , I can see this to be a better method. The brain really can't really focus on more than one auditory aspect at a time, just as the eyes can't focus on more than one plane of focus at a time. And, I agree, non-sighted comparisons of slight differences is essential.
 

romaz

Well-Known Member
Oct 7, 2015
78
416
83
I'm going to try your method. I've resisted it in that I've wanted to compare the presentation holistically, but with critical listening for subtlety , I can see this to be a better method. The brain really can't really focus on more than one auditory aspect at a time, just as the eyes can't focus on more than one plane of focus at a time. And, I agree, non-sighted comparisons of slight differences is essential.
Holistic listening over longer stretches of time is also important for certain qualities like musicality and long-term fatigue. Figure out a routine that incorporates both.
 

romaz

Well-Known Member
Oct 7, 2015
78
416
83
You always uncover the most interesting things! This Ethernet card not only has the M12 connectors but also an Intel 350 chipset and no one really talks about the importance of the chipset with respect to SQ. Emile suggested that the Intel 710 chipset and especially the 550 is really good. His words: "The 550 seems to have the best PRAT" and "the 550 just boogies."

What I am finding with the Extreme is that it is so fast that anything that diminishes this speed diminishes the Extreme's ability to resolve. This is one of the issues I have with the EtherREGEN's "B" side is that it sounds slower.
 
Apr 17, 2019
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no one really talks about the importance of the chipset with respect to SQ
This is so true.

What I am finding with the Extreme is that it is so fast that anything that diminishes this speed diminishes the Extreme's ability to resolve.
So, im a noob with a extreme, why not go SFP+ ? Or even SFP+ Direct link and get 40Gbps to the right switch ?

If you happen to be streaming to more then one device would Link Aggregation be of benifit, like 802.3ad to a switch that had each device on it ? Each stream would go out a separate port. Most likely not as some packets might go out either and get reassembled by the switch causing jitter I suppose ?
 

onsionsi

New Member
Nov 27, 2019
9
3
3
37
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.

View attachment 61675

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:

View attachment 61680

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:

View attachment 61677

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...
Facinatating report.

Thank you Romaz for sharing your experiments.
 

Taiko Audio

Industry Expert
Feb 10, 2017
1,144
1,260
180
The Netherlands
taikoaudio.com

Taiko Audio

Industry Expert
Feb 10, 2017
1,144
1,260
180
The Netherlands
taikoaudio.com
We installed an Extreme in a very interesting system this past weekend of which I'd like to share a few photos.

total system.JPG

IMG_4932.jpg
IMG_4933.jpg


IMG_4932.jpg

IMG_4939.jpg

IMG_4930.jpg
 

bonzo75

Member Sponsor
Feb 26, 2014
13,352
2,783
460
London
Wil

Your Lampi Pacific with its 300b tubes and your Luxman have a lot of 300b sonic magic, and thoroughly enjoyable for their bloom and tonal color. The noise floor of your system will not be as low as folks with mostly solid state equipment, so its not so surprising that you won't discern as large differences as folks with mainly SS systems when comparing the audible effects of different distributions of RF emissions coming off different components
SS systems have a lot of color, usually by suppressing tonal colors and creating a tonally grey sound that people consider neutral. Not denying that the average 300b is colored as well
 

kennyb123

Well-Known Member
Nov 30, 2012
170
32
110
Kirkland, WA
What I am finding with the Extreme is that it is so fast that anything that diminishes this speed diminishes the Extreme's ability to resolve. This is one of the issues I have with the EtherREGEN's "B" side is that it sounds slower.
The key differentiating feature of the ER is the ”moat” that isolates the A side from the B side. I wonder if the moat adds a bit of latency and that contributes to what you are observing.
 

Taiko Audio

Industry Expert
Feb 10, 2017
1,144
1,260
180
The Netherlands
taikoaudio.com
A rare gem I have not seen in real life before, awaiting installation into the system:

IMG_4907.jpg

IMG_4909.jpg

IMG_4911.jpg

IMG_4912.jpg
 
Oct 29, 2018
8
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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.

More to follow...
Very interested in the M12 Gold switch.

While the ER, SoTM and Melco have their own strong sound signatures, the M12 Gold is designed by Telegartner which meets high spec standard and seems to have the most balanced sound from different review on the web.

Looks like its a no-brainer solution for DIY servers with a JCAT Net Femto installed.

Looking forward to the M12 Gold report!
 

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