Taiko Audio SGM Extreme : the Crème de la Crème

Taiko Audio

Industry Expert
Feb 10, 2017
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The question is what type of sound people prefer - order or chaos? :eek:
That made me smile. It is really a lot closer then you would expect though.
 

Cellindo

New Member
Oct 28, 2018
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IMHO it is very hard to discuss USB versus AES/EBU. I immediately see an asynchronous versus a synchronous interface. The classical drawback of AES/EBU (clock regeneration) does not exist in professional or top systems that use a master clock, apparently AES/EBU is more predictable and easier to debate, particularly as bandwidth is more limited. Asynchronous processes are apparently much more chaotic. The question is what type of sound people prefer - order or chaos? :eek:
A year ago, I moved from USB connection (on a dCS Vivaldi DAC) to an AES connection, by using the matching dCS Network Bridge.
I was hoping to get relieved from the complex USB cable choice. Finally, I ended-up realizing that the AES/EBU cable is also extremely important, at least as important as the USB cable choice...

Anyway, I don't regret converting the IP music stream into a synchronous AES/EBU audio data stream. I think AES is a very proven connection method in Studio and for the low bit rate involved in 2-ch audio, we don't need the USB bandwidth (at least with Dual AES - dCS solution).
 
Aug 10, 2015
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Would adding a usb or network pcie card which has audiophile upgrades of capacitors and femto clocks allow further performance increases over the built in ports on the main board of the Extreme?
 

Taiko Audio

Industry Expert
Feb 10, 2017
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Would adding a usb or network pcie card which has audiophile upgrades of capacitors and femto clocks allow further performance increases over the built in ports on the main board of the Extreme?
We have not come across one that does so far.
 
Likes: justubes
Jan 16, 2013
519
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NYC
This is a good news.
I think Taiko discovered the way to avoid clocks and additional expansion cards.
It is interesting how they did it but it sounds like it works better than adding tjis cards or exchanging clocks.
Also this approche simplyfies the amount of hardwere and softwere .
Emile is "Da Man":)
 
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CKKeung

Well-Known Member
Jun 18, 2011
1,255
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83
Hong Kong
There are really only 2 options:
-Lynx AES16e
-RME HDSPe AES

We use the RME with the Extreme. We modify it to be able to use high end AES/EBU cables. We can also fit transformers to convert AES/EBU to SPDIF. The RME is more transparent / revealing. The Lynx is a bit more veiled which can be good for electrically noisy servers. That is why you may find comments online about the Lynx sounding "warmer" or "fuller" when used in digital audio workstations.

As for USB versus AES/EBU:

There is a functional difference, single channel AES/EBU is limited to 24/192 sample rates. If the DAC supports it you can split channels into dual or quad wire AES/EBU. DCS supports this, it allows you to play 24/384 files by splitting it into 2 x 24/192. You will obviously run into issues with DSD playback.

USB is only limited in sample rate and amount of channels by what the DAC USB receiver supports.

Sound quality between the two is generally competitive. Which one performs better depends on the implementation of the DAC interface, some DACs have superior AES/EBU interfaces, others have superior USB interfaces, and some are just on par. The Totaldac falls into the "on par" category, your preference may come down to your AES/EBU versus USB cable quality.
I listened to the Extreme driving a Totaldac Direct+Relclocker on Fri.
The aes/ebu digital cable was only a mid grade Westminster Lab.
The sonic result was definitely not bad!

20190712_184012~2.jpg

I think other than MSB dac users who can install a MSB ProUSB optical usb device, owners of other dac when buying Extreme should seriously consider installing a spdif digital output option to enhance flexibility.
;)
 
Mar 4, 2019
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listened to the Extreme driving a Totaldac Direct+Relclocker on Fri.
The aes/ebu digital cable was only a mid grade Westminster Lab.
The sonic result was definitely not bad!
I think many of us considering the extreme purchese would love to see the test
Of the 3 ways of getting from Exteteme to totalDac.
1. Getting via USB with intona cables and intona 3.0 that is considered best.
2. Getting via AES with the best possible cable ( Absolue Creation tim ref signature)
3. Getting via Spidf with best BNC cable available ( same as above).
Could you please experiment a little in that area to make our choise easier ?

Why we need it ?
Well. We should be limiting the number of things for few reasons:
1. They drown the power
2. They make a noize
3. They require to use additional softwere
4. They use part of the cpu / ram .
5. They cost additional Euros.
In my experience swiching everything not used off ( including unused usb ports , ethernet ports , ...)
Makes a big positive difference.
 
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Mar 4, 2019
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Emile.
When I was experimenting with servers few years ago the limiting factor was the supply.
In short the more watts the better.
Currently extreme has a 400w supply.
Do you think it is possible to double that for custom version of the extreme ?
 

Taiko Audio

Industry Expert
Feb 10, 2017
568
337
63
The Netherlands
taikoaudio.com
Emile.
When I was experimenting with servers few years ago the limiting factor was the supply.
In short the more watts the better.
Currently extreme has a 400w supply.
Do you think it is possible to double that for custom version of the extreme ?
There will not be a custom version, the Extreme is our maximum effort product.
 
Jan 16, 2013
519
269
63
NYC
I listened to the Extreme driving a Totaldac Direct+Relclocker on Fri.
The aes/ebu digital cable was only a mid grade Westminster Lab.
The sonic result was definitely not bad!

View attachment 54904

I think other than MSB dac users who can install a MSB ProUSB optical usb device, owners of other dac when buying Extreme should seriously consider installing a spdif digital output option to enhance flexibility.
;)
Flexibiltiy is a good thing:)
 
Mar 4, 2019
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We have not come across one that does so far.
Dear Emile
I think many of us considering the extreme purchese would love to see the test results
Of the 3 ways of getting from Exteteme to totalDac:

1. Getting via USB with intona cables and intona 3.0 that is considered best.
2. Getting via AES with the best possible cable ( Absolue Creation tim ref signature)
3. Getting via Spidf with best BNC cable available ( same as above).

Could you please experiment a little in that area ?

I think if one way is much better than we can consider avoiding unnecessary costs that plays a significant role in some pockets .

Your kind opinion in this area will be priceless
 

Taiko Audio

Industry Expert
Feb 10, 2017
568
337
63
The Netherlands
taikoaudio.com
Dear Emile
I think many of us considering the extreme purchese would love to see the test results
Of the 3 ways of getting from Exteteme to totalDac:

1. Getting via USB with intona cables and intona 3.0 that is considered best.
2. Getting via AES with the best possible cable ( Absolue Creation tim ref signature)
3. Getting via Spidf with best BNC cable available ( same as above).

Could you please experiment a little in that area ?

I think if one way is much better than we can consider avoiding unnecessary costs that plays a significant role in some pockets .

Your kind opinion in this area will be priceless
I currently prefer USB with the Intona Ultimate USB cable.

If you send me a "Absolue Creation tim ref signature" I'm happy to share my experience with it.

I can tell you right now that USB is less critical to cable choice in a very important aspect, if you get a better USB cable, the overall sound quality just increases without significantly impacting overall musicality. With AES/EBU, the used cable can impact musical involvement.
 

Blue58

Active Member
Jan 20, 2013
456
118
43
London, UK
Hi Emile,
For fibre cable itself is it better to choose a Class B grade with lower insertion loss and does the polishing, APC/UPC and jacket material PVC/LSZH matter if using the previously mentioned Startech products.
Just thinking to implement a fibre optic link to replace my WiFi extender and it’s there for any potential future upgrade path.
Cheers
 

Sablon Audio

Industry Expert, VIP Donor
May 22, 2015
590
149
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I’m just going to throw this out there and run before rotten fruit gets pelted in my direction........

www.auralsymphonics.com/iogel%202013.html

I previously used this on the dual ST glass cables of an Audio Synthesis Transcend / Dax Discrete and found the sound more focused, grainfree and solid. Perhaps there is an industrial equivalent at a much cheaper price?!?
 

Taiko Audio

Industry Expert
Feb 10, 2017
568
337
63
The Netherlands
taikoaudio.com
Hi Emile,
For fibre cable itself is it better to choose a Class B grade with lower insertion loss and does the polishing, APC/UPC and jacket material PVC/LSZH matter if using the previously mentioned Startech products.
Just thinking to implement a fibre optic link to replace my WiFi extender and it’s there for any potential future upgrade path.
Cheers
Hi Barry,

Cable quality is less influential with longer range SFP modules. Still everything matters. There just aren’t enough hours in the day for me to test everything and this is not my highest priority.

I am currently running tests with 10Gb and even 25Gb fiber and copper networking. I will share when I have conclusive results.
 

CKKeung

Well-Known Member
Jun 18, 2011
1,255
367
83
Hong Kong
I’m just going to throw this out there and run before rotten fruit gets pelted in my direction........
www.auralsymphonics.com/iogel%202013.html
I previously used this on the dual ST glass cables of an Audio Synthesis Transcend / Dax Discrete and found the sound more focused, grainfree and solid. Perhaps there is an industrial equivalent at a much cheaper price?!?
Many of my EMMLabs owner friends use this gel.
:cool:
 
Mar 4, 2019
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am currently running tests with 10Gb and even 25Gb fiber and copper networking. I will share when I have conclusive results.
Cant wait for your opinion.
You should have more focuse , more detail, more tight bass with higher speeds.
The question is if the price for this is less musicality?
Let us know please .
 

Taiko Audio

Industry Expert
Feb 10, 2017
568
337
63
The Netherlands
taikoaudio.com
I am currently running tests with 10Gb and even 25Gb fiber and copper networking. I will share when I have conclusive results.
I have completed most of the tests I intended to conduct.

1) The SFP modules dominate the results. Whether SFP (1Gb) or SFP+ (10Gb), Startech SFP modules sound by far the best to me, with the best colour saturation and more contrast then the others, they also consistently capture more atmosphere / ambiance and create a more 3-dimensional sound. Single mode sounds better then multi mode. Longer range sounds better then shorter. Please note that officially 40 and 80km ranges need attenuators on shorter ranges to reduce laser transmission power. I have been using 80km modules without attenuators for around 9-10 months now without issues but cannot make any guarantees about longevity.

2) Connecting the server through a dedicated switch, not shared with other devices is a very clear step up in sound quality, a FMC (Fibre Media Converter) accomplishes the same thing. This is nothing new, a lot of audiophiles are already using stacked switches.

3) Creating a separate subnet for your streaming environment can be beneficial. This is more advanced to setup. The easiest way is to use 2 routers, 1 serving your streaming network, the other your home network. When using a submask of 255.255.255.0 you can create 2 subnets by for example placing your streaming devices in 192.168.1.x and your other network devices in 192.168.2.x. You can also go more advanced by means of a managed switch where you can create separate vlans which works out at about the same. The downside is more network devices have a negative effect again. Due to complexity of setup and unpredictable results, I do not recommend going here unless you enjoy playing around with this.

4) The Netgear nighthawk pro gaming xr700 router has some "cool" features like prioritising traffic to your server, but it just does not sound good, and I have spend a full day trying all possible configurations.

5) As for 1Gb versus 10Gb versus 25Gb, ultimately I get the best results from the earlier recommended 1Gb setup, Startech SFP1000ZXST SFP Single Mode 1550nm 80km modules, with the Startech ET91000SFP2 Fibre Media Converter. My best performing 10Gb setup so far is Startech SFP10GBLRST SFP+ Single mode 1310nm 10km modules with a Planet XT-705A FMC which converts 10Gb SFP+ to 1Gb copper ethernet. Interestingly better then several 10G switches I tried. Again SFP modules dominate the outcome, the 10Gb equivalent Startech SFP modules cost around 2000 each, I did not try those and I don't plan to. There are some interesting looking QNAP 10Gb switches on presale right now, I will likely order one of those and run some more tests.

Concluding, my earlier recommendation stands. 10Gb has potential, but there's no affordable configuration available right now outperforming the recommended 1Gb setup. Looking forward to testing the upcoming uptone ether regen and qnap switches.

To add some context, do not overthink all of this, I replaced some Furutech spades and KLEI rca plugs with Bocchino connectors, they have made a far bigger difference then any of the configurations tested above.
 

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