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Yea, I run the Ambre with Onyx via I2S and I think it's very good. I only had the internal DAC of ROTEL 1572 and Bluesound Node 2i to compare though. I was originally going to try Aries G2, but I spoke with Anjo on Facebook and he sold me on his product.
I currently run that setup with a newly picked up Mcintosh MA6600...Amazing sound
Glad to hear you like your new rig. I almost ordered one of these. What put me off was the lack of reviews and overall information available about the Cocktail Audio brand. I called two dealers who sell their stuff online, and was surprised how little the sales people could tell me about their products. One of the dealers was Audio Advisor. I have had very good experiences with them in the past, so I was surprised how little he knew about a product line that is prominently promoted in their catalog and website. The online community seems to know very little about their products as well.
In the end I bought a Innuous Zenith Mk III. Despite the fact that the Innuous brand is not reviewed in the audio magazines, they have a fabulous reputation in the online community. Many people on this forum spoke very highly of this server. This meant a lot to me, so I pulled the trigger. The Zenith is a great server and I'm very happy. Yet, I am still intrigued by the Cocktail Audio product line. Please continue to post your impressions of your new server. Thanks
After reading a lot of reviews and comparing numerous options, finally I selected Cocktail Audio X50Pro, despite the fact I couldn’t find too many reviews. That’s why I decided to reply to this thread so those who are looking for a high end audio streamer and server could find some feedback. It was hard to find a dealer too! I am in the US, there are many audio stores in my area but none of them carries this machine. Nevertheless, I just received the unit and installed it in my movie room. I had a chance to listen to Qobuz and Tidal streaming as well as some CDs ripped to the unit’s internal HD (I separately bought 2 SSD and installed them as RAID Mirror - the installation and configuration were very easy). The sound is absolutely fantastic, even with movie room equipment - Anthem AVR and B&W speakers - which is not bad for a movie room but not exactly the best option for HiFi audio. So the main test is going to be with McIntosh integrated DAC/amp which is supposed to arrive next week, but I have no doubt the sound will be perfect.
I thought I would chime back in being I'm the OP. The X50pro is long gone. It had the potential on paper to be great music server with everything I was looking for. Here is where it fell short for me. The display is horrible, especially for a 7". The 4" on my Auralic G1 Aries was clearer and crisper. The menu's are very confusing and cumbersome to use. I really think there are way to many features in it that no one will ever use. The software was very buggy and would lock up on occasion which would require a power off/on cycle. Most importantly, the sound was not up to par for what I expected. After using for about a month or so, I thought it was ok, but decided to put back in the Metrum Ambre to see, and Wow, much better sound quality. Still using the Ambre today but looking at possibly the Aurrender.
Maybe I was a little too harsh about the X50pro. I’m sure it would be a good fit for some people that would use it with there home theater setup, that have a really big cd collection that they want to rip and would use all the bells and whistles it provides. I said the display is horrible. That’s a strong word and I’m sorry if I mislead anyone. The display is not horrible, it just is not great. For such a large 7" display, i just felt the resolution should be higher. The resolution on my 4" display on the Aries G1 was clearer.
I bought one of ron1264's X50 Pro units. He and I were kind of on the same quest for the best streamer. I had several available at the time I bought it and felt that it was the best of the ones I had. That included the Ambre, which I felt represented a good value but was not the equal of the other steamers. I agree with the software issues. I was emailing Cocktail Audio in S Korea regularly complaining about the glitches in the software and they would keep promising a firmware update. Finally in May 2019, they released one and it fixed all the issues. It now performs flawlessly and sounds great. I don't know of any other component that does everything the X50 Pro does. One of the streamers I had to compare was the X50 D. The X50 Pro is significantly better than the X50 D. I don't store my music on the 2 SSDs I installed in the X50 Pro. I have a Melco N1ZH/2 that I keep my music on and I feel that it sounds better than music stored on the internal drives of the X50 Pro. The downside is that Cocktail Audio has US dealers but no distributor, so dealing with the factory for service issues is a pain. The service tech would always respond promptly, but would make promises about the release of the firmware update that were incorrect. It took months for the problem to get resolved. In the end, it was worth it but a bit frustrating.
I listen to several brands of servers at home and had borrowed a Cocktail Audio X-50 for two weeks . First off the music management is very annoying and with Cocktails new and improved music management app , it stinks ,,,.
overall playback sound quality is mediocre at best .
Some of you here have mentioned the Innuos brand , well these products are on a completely different level of sound quality playback performance and music management options .
The comparisons have absolutely nothing to do with being subjective about it , if you know what actual music should sound like the Innuos playing into a decent dac is in a different part of the universe , listen for yourself not even close.
Completely different ? a completely different animal ? It’s been my experience along with others there is usually very similar sound quality traits a product line of components as such examples with the X-50 and X-50 pro. There could be a host of reason’s why it’s difficult to find reviews and or online chat of the Cocktail Audio product line , I’m pretty sure I know why,..
I have an X35 which uses the same everything except has a slighly lower grade ESS dac chip. It;’s far from bad. a agree with the people who disliked the old app, I find the new one just issued to be workable although not Roon like. What really makes the CA units sing is proper set up, and a good and knowledgeable dealer is worth their weight in gold. I wouldn’t call the SQ top drawer it’s far from bad and the ability to rip CDs at a very fast rate is superb. I’m thinking of swapping up to the X50 which will allow me to utilize a Brooklyn DAC.
So does anyone have first hand experience comparing the X50 PRO w/ Zenith mk3? Looks like they're both top of the line streamer/ripper/music server and reasonably close in terms of pricings. I do like the fact that X50Pro does offer additional function of radio but the SQ/ripping quality would be more important to me.
Hi Tom6897, I find that I can tweak most equipment by opening the case and adding earthed shielding around power supplies (critical) and other boards. Shielded dummy plugs can also be worth considering as they can stop external interference having a direct path to boards (sometimes only minor), but still worth considering if you are hoping to extract the best from your equipment.
gtaudio said it right:
" ...The trouble I find with most of these streamers is not the actual hardware but the wifi connection between the streamer and the router. That's why the X50Pro having a proper control screen and selection controls on its front panel is so attractive."It's absurd that so many Streamers/Transport's must rely upon another make/brand, app, remote/controller for operation of the device ! Crazy.
It's a cheapo short-cut on those manufacturer's part that see's them loosing out to more senisble designs.
As fast, functional, stylish, quiet and slick my previous InnuOs Zen mini III was, it erked me to no end to look at this well-made black box and then have to search for a phone/tablet/computer to opeate the damn thing that I was standing in front of moments earlier.
Speaking of the CA X-50, I did have one for a week or so and loved its front-panel controls that enabled precise (and immediate) control of its myriad of functions.
Addtionally, what many fail to recognize was/is the X-50/X-50D's excellent digital I/O's including the much desired i2S Dig. OUT that proved to be a great connection to the internal SSD drive used.
And let's not forget the units price-point; it's a heck of a lot of device Streamer/Transport/Renderer, built in storage, accessible outboard storage/NAS, Internet Radio, FM radio ! lol, full-function remote control, 7" color display (monitor/HDMi OUT) -a one-stop shop for cataloguing audiophiles treasured CD collections -and feeding the signal via USB, spdif (AES/EBU, coaxial, toslink) or i2S over HDMi or RJ-45 !
Hard to beat.
Hi Tom6897 SAID:
" ..., I find that I can tweak most equipment by opening the case and adding earthed shielding around power supplies (critical) and other boards. Shielded dummy plugs can also be worth considering as they can stop external interference having a direct path to boards (sometimes only minor), but still worth considering if you are hoping to extract the best from your equipment."
And I'd bet that replacing the '2-cent' SATA cables used from SSD/HDD (seen on too many "premium" Streamers/Servers/Transports) with a premium cable would iresult in significant SQ gains.
Knowing (full well) the impact cable has on performance, it strikes me unusual (ly) cheap that so many companies (Aurender, Melco) choose to use the cheapest cables extant ! (?). The price of these things (glorified computers/NAS's) demands the finest parts/cabling available and yet is not offered. Laughable. And unfortunate. To those that have invested so heavily in the big talk/name only to discover the cheapest generic cabling lurking inside its fancy chassis.
I recently pulled the trigger on X50Pro, almost two years after I purchased my first Coctail Audio X50D model. So you must be thinking already that I must really love it. Yes, I do. That's because it has all I need and only what I need. That means no unnecessary parts for me like DAC. For external DACs I use Marantz SA10 with my X50D and Accuphase DP570 with X50Pro in 2nd system. In addition one of my Accuphase amps has DAC50 card installed but I found players DAC to be handling USB Audio better without occasional glitches which I observed with DAC50 hooked via USB Audio.
Both X50 models are virtually identical with functions, the double the price comes from what I can't really asses except reading about product from manufacturer website which are some mechanical design properties of Pro model over D. Both streamers however are built solid, thick aluminum case, great display with undetermined selector and volume knobs which I can't figure out to be plastic or aliminum made. They feel light though same way on both models.
Now, the main selling point for X50 was and still is ability to stream to external DSC HiRes DSD up to 11.2Mbps (DSD256) and PCM up to 384k/32b. The only interface that currently supports that function is USB Audio. Both Toslink and coaxial outputs are limited to PCM 96k/24b and 192k/24b respectively and won't even stream low bitrate DSD. That's due to physical limitations of these two interfaces but also proprietary nature of DSD licensing.
Before deciding on my 1st X50D, I did extensive research on products available on the market capable of the above. Besides super expensive Eaoteric high end model and one more from brand I can't remember, there were only Coctail Audio streamers capable of streaming high bitrate hires dsd and pcm. In addition X50D oferred storage option with raid mode which was really cherry on the top for me.
So currently I enjoy two X50 streamers, both connected to the same LAN, which makes one of them not even needing hard disk storage at all as it can connect to the other one and stream any file I want from it.
Over the years I have accumulated vast library of HiRes albums, procured mostly from paid sources like HDTracks and nativeDSD. This was well spent money because I enjoy every song from this collection and it's unprecedented quality and superior sound over the standard CD and even SACD quality is worth listening every minute. You have to hear to believe it. I am sure X50D owners utilizing hires music know that already.
It’s a nice feature that one of your units is being used both as a player and a NAS for the whole system, but it does make the purchase of the second unit, which apparently you are using just as a player, a bit of a head scratcher. One of the advantages of a unit such as Cocktail is the all in one deal: ripper/player/hard disc storage all in one. Until I read your post I didn’t realize that it could also be a server for other players on the network (I’m assuming it is DLNA compliant). At any rate, the second unit, which costs twice as much as the first, comes with redundant disc ripping and storage.
I would have sunk the money into a dedicated player for the second system. Otoh, I am glad that what you have done works for you, that you are happy with the outcome, and hope that my comments don’t put a dent in your enjoyment. Just food for thought
Thanks for comment. Not al all. The main reason I got 2nd X50Pro was availability in gold finish which is rare among hires but required to complete my 2nd stereo setup. I know this sound cheesy but my eyes are as good as my ears and it all simply have to look good. There is literally zero alternatives capable of what X50 have to offer also in terms of dac interfaces variety and decoding capabilities (I like to experiment with these).
In time I will most likely install storage in the Pro. Also because one if systems uses wifi which occasionally may cause data throttling which immediately cause unnacceptable playback stutter. Or maybe I just patch it another cat cable and call it a day. Money is not object when I know gear is worth the expense. And both X50s definetely are.
Couple new functions discovered and possibly a software bug.
Last night signed up my X50Pro to Amz Music (have HD service), had to use Music X Neo app for it but works like a charm. Was browsing extensively trying to find in song with higher than 44.1k sampling frequency, no luck so far. But all music is in 32bit resolution, that's double comparing to CD. And yes, most of it sounds stunning, super clear, detailed, similar to my hires files I listen offline. Whether Celine Dion or well know A-Ha, I could not resist turning around to check unit display "what is that makes sound so good".
I also tried Group Play. It is new function that allows employing multiple X50s to play same song in sync in multiroom. Indeed it does exactly that and in perfect sync. No delay or lag noticed. One problem is for some reason my other X50D stops playing via USB Audio when group mode is enabled, I have to switch to coax output to get the sound. My X50Pro does not have this issue, plays via USB no problem whether in group play mode or not. Must be X50D software glitch which I reported to Novatron tech support.
Btw, the latest firmware available at Novatron website I used (r1688) to flash my old X50D to enable Group play, messed up the UPnP service. I am unable to access X50D library from X50Pro by Genre, Album, Artist. Only selection by song Title works, but that takes forever to display results (over 10,000 songs in my storage) so it's unusable. This did not make me happy either about new firmware, so beware to use it.
Hoping Novatron tech support will repond soon or I have to roll my unit firmware back to factory giving up Group Play function between both X50s.
That's all for now. Cheers.