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: 49 69.0%
  • Ethernet

    Votes: 10 14.1%
  • Both USB and Ethernet

    Votes: 6 8.5%
  • AES/EBU

    Votes: 8 11.3%
  • Dual AES/EBU

    Votes: 1 1.4%
  • Other

    Votes: 5 7.0%

  • Total voters
    71

oldmustang

Well-Known Member
Dec 2, 2012
155
248
275
Regarding JPlay, the feedback on it is very mixed. Where a good 75% used to prefer using JPlay over Roon "direct", it is now more like 50/50. I'm trying to get a handle on what causes these mixed results but there appears to be no common ground from a system setup perspective, results are even split between headphone users, so it may very well simply be completely personal. Chris is back from his holiday, the appointment scheduler is live again at https://taiko-audio.appointlet.com/ , feel free to schedule an update to restore JPlay but do evaluate carefully if you consider it an improvement or not. The 2015/EVO did not come with JPlay so those do require a license purchase.
I've been evaluating JPlay and so far I'm ambivalent. I would say so far that while my first experience with JPlay compared to the dCS Upsampler ASIO driver was very positive in favor of JPlay, that was prior to Roon build 537 and the later Taiko operating system tweaks.

Now, I hear JPlay as different to the ASIO driver, but not unequivocally better. It certainly isn't bad, but while I might characterize the JPlay sound as "bold" it also sometimes strays over into "brash" with some musical selections.

My plan is to continue listening to a wide range of music using JPlay for at least another week, then switch back to the ASIO driver to hear the contrast between the two again.

JPlay certainly isn't bad by any means -- it just might be a bit too much of a good thing at times. I suspect a preference for one or the other might be system (preamp/amps/speakers) and taste dependent at this point.

Steve Z
 
Dec 17, 2018
13
21
10
45
Belgium
I'd like to share how amazed I am with the service quality of Emile. In the course of upgrading my setup I requested Emile on his opinion about a couple of topics and he proposed to have a call to discuss it which ended up in a very rich nice conversation.

Thanks dear Emile for this unique service quality and for all your insights. Much appreciated!

Anas
 

tsaett

Well-Known Member
May 20, 2014
100
89
233
Cologne
Regarding JPlay, the feedback on it is very mixed. Where a good 75% used to prefer using JPlay over Roon "direct", it is now more like 50/50. I'm trying to get a handle on what causes these mixed results but there appears to be no common ground from a system setup perspective, results are even split between headphone users, so it may very well simply be completely personal. Chris is back from his holiday, the appointment scheduler is live again at https://taiko-audio.appointlet.com/ , feel free to schedule an update to restore JPlay but do evaluate carefully if you consider it an improvement or not. The 2015/EVO did not come with JPlay so those do require a license purchase.

Dear all,

a small reminder for all who want to try out JPlay, the system is still open, feel free to book your appointment!

Christoph
 
Likes: oldmustang

Kris

Well-Known Member
Mar 4, 2019
281
135
48
Dear all,

a small reminder for all who want to try out JPlay, the system is still open, feel free to book your appointment!

Christoph
Christoph
Can I ask you if it is still exactly the same jplay update you did few weeks ago ?
Or is it more than it was back then ?
Best
K
 

tsaett

Well-Known Member
May 20, 2014
100
89
233
Cologne
Hello Kris,
for the Extreme it is a different one and contains only enabling JPlay (the driver) to be available at startup.
As Emile noted, this update is totally optional and we are indeed getting very mixed feedback from users.

If you are happy, I'd suggest to skip this, if you want to try it out we are of course happy to enable it for you!

The "real" update is for SGM2015 and EVO users, who are reporting great benefits from the July 2020 firmware!

Chris
 

Kris

Well-Known Member
Mar 4, 2019
281
135
48
Hello Kris,
for the Extreme it is a different one and contains only enabling JPlay (the driver) to be available at startup.
As Emile noted, this update is totally optional and we are indeed getting very mixed feedback from users.

If you are happy, I'd suggest to skip this, if you want to try it out we are of course happy to enable it for you!

The "real" update is for SGM2015 and EVO users, who are reporting great benefits from the July 2020 firmware!

Chris
After just few hours of the current update l must say it is by far the bigest gain in SQ in my system.
This gives so much more transparency, space and much less upper level noise.
There is additional 2 m depth present now in my system that I like a lot.
It protects musicality and authority of the lower bass at the same time.
Also it adds the factor of efortless presentation.
All this was done in less than 5 min and without any loss in SQ.

Emile and Chris you created many great updates but to my taste this is the best one.
Thank You !
 

Blue58

Well-Known Member
Jan 20, 2013
585
254
310
London, UK
I've been evaluating JPlay and so far I'm ambivalent. I would say so far that while my first experience with JPlay compared to the dCS Upsampler ASIO driver was very positive in favor of JPlay, that was prior to Roon build 537 and the later Taiko operating system tweaks.

Now, I hear JPlay as different to the ASIO driver, but not unequivocally better. It certainly isn't bad, but while I might characterize the JPlay sound as "bold" it also sometimes strays over into "brash" with some musical selections.

My plan is to continue listening to a wide range of music using JPlay for at least another week, then switch back to the ASIO driver to hear the contrast between the two again.

JPlay certainly isn't bad by any means -- it just might be a bit too much of a good thing at times. I suspect a preference for one or the other might be system (preamp/amps/speakers) and taste dependent at this point.

Steve Z
Just reverted back to the Aqua asio driver as I found the JPlay to have a strange high frequency lift in my system. Perhaps my tube amps don’t like this extra energy. Calmness now restored.

blue58
 

tsaett

Well-Known Member
May 20, 2014
100
89
233
Cologne
Just reverted back to the Aqua asio driver as I found the JPlay to have a strange high frequency lift in my system. Perhaps my tube amps don’t like this extra energy. Calmness now restored.

blue58
Blue,
you are confirming our 50/50 distribution.
I think it is great that you can compare at the click of a button, simply pick what works in your system!
 

cat6man

Well-Known Member
Feb 7, 2013
174
37
260
west of NYC, east of SF
Blue,
you are confirming our 50/50 distribution.
I think it is great that you can compare at the click of a button, simply pick what works in your system!
yes.......and no

compare at the click of a button, yes

50/50 distribution, no
this cries out for understanding...........
could it be sensitivity to the switch feeding the extreme, and buffering, flow control, etc
could it be that different DACs prefer one or the other, with buffering, flow control, etc

it seems clear that Emile&Co have found interactions with the switch that they cannot control without customized solutions and therefore will tackle with a switch of their own designed for maximum synergy with the extreme (a brilliant solution in my opinion)

could different DACs present an identical issue/sensitivity on the output?
 

howiebrou

Well-Known Member
Jun 29, 2012
1,395
1,131
400
yes.......and no

compare at the click of a button, yes

50/50 distribution, no
this cries out for understanding...........
could it be sensitivity to the switch feeding the extreme, and buffering, flow control, etc
could it be that different DACs prefer one or the other, with buffering, flow control, etc

it seems clear that Emile&Co have found interactions with the switch that they cannot control without customized solutions and therefore will tackle with a switch of their own designed for maximum synergy with the extreme (a brilliant solution in my opinion)

could different DACs present an identical issue/sensitivity on the output?
It would nice to have some details on the data e.g. how is the 50/50 distributed? Do all Lampi users, for example, fall into one camp etc. What is N in this case?
 

Taiko Audio

Industry Expert
Feb 10, 2017
1,408
1,814
260
The Netherlands
taikoaudio.com
50/50 distribution, no
this cries out for understanding...........
It would nice to have some details on the data e.g. how is the 50/50 distributed? Do all Lampi users, for example, fall into one camp etc. What is N in this case?
I have a few theories but none of them are a 100% match. What does stand out is:
-Systems with relatively smaller loudspeakers and/or residing in smaller rooms and/or speakers positioned closer to rear and/or sidewalls, around a 75% preference for Jplay.
-Large systems in large rooms with a lot of clearance around the speakers (5x8 meters or larger), very low preference for Jplay.
-There is a larger % of preference for Jplay for people using and preferring fiber networking, but not in large systems/rooms.
-Headphones users are split 50/50.
-People with large systems find Jplay to restrict dynamics / energy, soundstage size, naturalness of tone and musical flow.
-People with smaller systems/rooms find Jplay to increase detail, dynamics and to provide more focused imaging.

It is important to note we are not using Jplay as intended in the Extreme, so this cannot be taken out of context nor can it be generalised to apply to other systems. Jplay in a single CPU / single system environment is virtually always considered an improvement. Jplay in a dual system setup is considered an additional improvement over a single system (server/endpoint distribution). In the Extreme we are "emulating" a dual system setup but in stead of using ethernet to transport data, we are using something called QPI (Intel QuickPath Interconnect).
 

spiritofmusic

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2013
11,453
2,326
603
E. England
After a seemingly interminable wait due to everyone's favourite bug, I finally managed to get to hear the Extreme, and see what the buzz is all about, at Barry/Blue58.

First of all, just like visiting Audiophile Bill a fortnight back, I was just so pleased to catch up with my good friend Barry, four months was way too long.

Secondly, I'm always promised a great sound, and an interesting sound, and courtesy of Mr. Tidal and Roon, a great choice of music.

I know Barry has gone thru a lot of hair pulling to get his Extreme singing, and his whole sound in synch. He knows his sound way better than me, and had run the SGM2015 for at least three years prior to the Extreme's arrival, and he wouldn't deny there is some way to go.

So, Extreme on Daiza, ethernet/fibre/ethernet connection, new driver tubes in his own-design 45 monos, and recently completed AG Duos xover mods, plus help from Emile on server settings.

First up were a couple of jazz tracks, 1962 Prince Lasha/Congo Call, and 2020 Yussef Dayes/Love Is The Message. My initial impression was totally positive, the creaminess and texture of the music thru the Extreme was totally engaging. For me, a sound is made thru dense textured mids (the critical reason I still identify with vinyl), and the Extreme/Aqua Formula XHD combination was compelling. Not radically different from Barry's old SGM2015, but a definite step up. This was digital I could truly live with and look forward to playing.

This attribute was repeated further with Gil Evans/St. Louis Blues and John Coltrane/Blue World, that mids palpability now accompanied by amazing amounts of depth and snap. I'm totally in love with the dynamic twists and explosive transients in 60s Trane, and the Extreme felt limitless here. From Elvin Jones's rolling wave/tidal flow snare rim-shots toms rolls/cymbals crash accents, to Trane's sinewy lines and kinetic horn bursts, the Extreme was living up to it's name.

Took the energy down a level to some melodic and harmonic Michael Hedges/Rickover's Dream, Andres Segovia/Sonata Romantica, and Capella Antiqua Munchen/Gregorian Chant. Here the Extreme was strutting itself on imaging, and micro cues. I have to say I was shocked as to how much information I was hearing. I'm not a "can you hear/feel the studio walls?" kind of listener, but it was uncanny how realistic the Extreme sounded in reproducing the acoustic event. I don't think I've ever experienced this level of holistic representation of space and cues from any other digital, in fact I'm sure I haven't. And precious little vinyl. Indeed this is a new benchmark for me.

Of course, we can't just listen to beautiful music. We gotta play some 80s wall of sound and 70s prog chestnuts. To see if the Mona Lisa looks good with a moustache Lol.

China Crisis/Highest High
Peter Gabriel/Sledgehammer
Pink Floyd/One Of These Days
Genesis/One For The Vine, A Trick Of The Tail
Rush/Different Strings, The Weapon, YYZ.

This was a fascinating comparison, and imho provided my only reservations about the Extreme presentation.
Pink Floyd was really tremendous, the balance of ambient retrieval and bass slam was just great fun. The China Crisis track was never gonna sound overly great, but it's sympathetically recorded warm encompassing tone came thru loud and clear.
Genesis was a dead loss on one track, and we can really now 100% blame remaster engineer Nick Davis for butchering the catalogue, ...Vine sounded totally top heavy and broken. ...Tail from an original cd master, much warmer.

Rush was a fascinating experience. Different Strings just shimmered with studio cues and air that I don't think I've ever experienced at this level, making it almost a new song. The Weapon should have been a harsh impenetrable mess, but it shone with greater dynamics and snap than it deserved to demonstrate.

YYZ? I'm still waiting for digital to get close to my vinyl.

My additional comment at this point, and it's heavily caveated on Barry's sound right now being a work in progress, is that I just detected a hint of high end energy that crept thru on the most flat, tipped up recordings (my prog choices). Not vastly apparent on the delectable jazz and acoustic we played. Here, that effervescent quality was translated into boundless energy. But I was aware of it as a hint of Extreme being extremely highlighting of any tendency for flatness in stage or tipped-upness in frequency balance. It could also be a facet of Barry's system's tonal balance, just less overt with his old SGM2015. This is more a listener bias/system signature/masterings provenance observation than a definitive comment on the Extreme.

What I can say is that Extreme is well named. It IS Extreme, does some things imho unheard of before in the top digital I've heard, ie subtle cues, analog like mids tonal density, and provides a compelling mix of deep resolution, texture and palpability, verve and air.

The kudos afforded to Extreme thus far is very deserved in my book.
 
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Blue58

Well-Known Member
Jan 20, 2013
585
254
310
London, UK
Always good to catch up Marc and hopefully soon I can come hear how your system is progressing. I agree with your assessment of my sound and I do feel it’s a work in progress. By your next visit it should be ticking all boxes.

cheers
blue58
 

spiritofmusic

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2013
11,453
2,326
603
E. England
Well, I'll let you keep the Rush in that box next time Lol.
Despite your aversion to them, in some ways I learnt as much about the Extreme playing the three Rush tracks as I did hearing Trane today.
 

wil

Well-Known Member
Jul 22, 2015
308
128
128
As an Avantgarde owner, I would guess any tipped up highs you heard on ProgRock to be solely a result of these Uber-revealing, unforgiving horns and has nothing to do with the Extreme. My experience is the AG's punish bad recordings and are better at some genre's than others. Most jazz for instance (and I mean 99%) is a near ecstatic experience with the AG/Extreme combination. But take a large and aggressive choral/orchestral work and I'll be surely turning the volume down or off.
 

spiritofmusic

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2013
11,453
2,326
603
E. England
Will, you run Extreme/Duos?
I guess my observation is that the Extreme is so dynamic, low noise, and seemingly uncompromising, that it appeared more challenging than Barry's previous SGM2015, on my prog choices.
 

Kingsrule

Well-Known Member
Feb 3, 2011
964
186
390
If the system had Startech SPF modules in it u didn't come close to hearing the Extreme.....
As well as ps for FMC's, dac used, etc........and pointing to the Extreme for the tipped up frequency balance, what's with that???
 

wil

Well-Known Member
Jul 22, 2015
308
128
128
Will, you run Extreme/Duos?
I guess my observation is that the Extreme is so dynamic, low noise, and seemingly uncompromising, that it appeared more challenging than Barry's previous SGM2015, on my prog choices.
I have the Duo Mezzo xd. I do think it's hard to compare auditory memory of one server in a system to another over a long period of time. At least for me!
 

spiritofmusic

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2013
11,453
2,326
603
E. England
Well, I've heard the SGM2015 at Barry's place multiple times over three years, at least two dozen times, so have a strong aural memory.

What is fascinating about the Extreme is how close familiarly it is to the SGM2015...there is obviously a real Emile DNA in the design...and then how much an advance Extreme is in comparison. It's a proper upgrade for those who love the SGM2015 sound, but don't want to lose that goodness.

There are any number of reasons for some of the challenging aspects I heard today. One is, like a great tt, that noise floor is really reduced. An awful lot of info is coming thru, more by far than I've ever heard from digital, and I truly believe only upper echelon vinyl front ends compare here. This on it's own makes the Extreme a triumph in it's own right.

But like the Spiderman ethos "With great power comes great responsibility", with great resolution comes great challenges, and I do believe to get anywhere near the full potential of Extreme, and for that vanishingly low noise floor/uber resolution not to sound challenging or chilly in the upper registers, the rest of the setup, or system balance/synergy, needs to be optimal. And with so many variables in any self-respecting audiophile's system, even down to the balance of ethernet and fibre to the Extreme, I can imagine Extreme poses real challenges.

I know Barry is methodically working thru his current successes, and remaining areas to experiment on.
 
Likes: oldmustang

spiritofmusic

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2013
11,453
2,326
603
E. England
If the system had Startech SPF modules in it u didn't come close to hearing the Extreme.....
As well as ps for FMC's, dac used, etc........and pointing to the Extreme for the tipped up frequency balance, what's with that???
Kingsrule, there were some aspects of the presentation today very similar to Barry's previous SGM2015, many aspects way in advance, one aspect that I found challenging. Just reporting it as I heard it. Indeed Barry has worked hard to reconcile the sound to the way he wants it, primarily bearing with the recommended 1200 hours burn in, settling on his ethernet/fibre/ethernet chain, and sorting his tubes. And I formally concluded my mini report saying my limited negative observations were not a complaint or criticism, more a comment based on likely system optimisation/gear synergy concerns.
In every other way, the Extreme is nothing less than a total triumph, and a truly iconic product.
 
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