Computer to DAC Streamer

I am looking to get a digital-to-digital streamer for my new office system. I currently have a Sonare microRendu and that unit will move to another room once my new office system is built up. I also use ROON. I was originally considering getting a DAC with Ethernet streaming built-in but I may require a DAC with DSP and those DACs do not have this feature. I should add that the Linn SELEKT DSM streamer/DAC has Ethernet streaming and DSP but lacks the analog inputs I need (it also sounds excellent).

It has been suggested to me to buy an Innous streamer to get my music across to the DAC. However, I am trying to understand why these products are better than my current noisy computer combined with the micrRendu digital-to-digital type products. Anybody done a comparison? Is it because of noise on the Ethernet wire polluting the DAC?

In no particular order the following streamers have have come up in my research as being better than the microRendu I currently own (I have not heard these) :

Simaudio Mind2

Sonare Signiture Rendu

Auralic G2 Aeris

I am interested in the feedback or thought process of people who were making the same streamer decision as me. What did you guys end up getting or looking to get? I know there are a lot of lower costs alternatives and I am open to anything that will take my to the top tier sound level.

My preamp/DAC choice is looking like it will be the Anthem STR.

You really need to go back to digital design 101.

Point 1: EMI affects jitter in all  digital systems.

Point 2: Mechanical Hard Drives vs Non Mechanical Hard Drives

A mechanical hard drive by definition creates and radiates a greater amount of  noise which is not just mechanical noise, but with the additional complexity of a moving hard drive's spinning motor, moving platers and other parts, you are going to generate greater amounts of noise which is directly being transfered into the digital signal, and this doesn't matter if your server is in the same room or in a different room then your dac..

An SSD has no moving parts, no motors,  and will therefore by definition by quieter because it is not radiating noise into your digital signal.

Point 3: Empirical evidence vs a perceived expert who by definition will allready have a closed mind.

So a guy comes up and tells you that a particular hard drive sounds better did you stop and ask him how he came to this conclusion or did you tell him it is all bunk because I work for a hard drive manufaturer.

The guy who actually tested different hard drives if his testing methology is vailid and kept the same identical test scenario, perhaps has emprical evidence that in his tests his results were indeed valid and that he was getting better results from one hard drive then another, that doesn't mean his experiences are 100% valid unless other people did the exact same test.

Point 4:

Yesterday just to make sure we are 100% correct in our findings ran a simple experiment, because we are a store, we have multiple servers in three different rooms.

Here was the test:

Krell K300i Roon endpoint, volume was identical on all three Roon devices;

All servers were sending the Krell Roon packeted data over an ethernet connection. 

Two servers were in an differnt room one server was in the same room on the same switch as the Krell K3001.

Played the same track at the same level on three different devices:

1: Innous Zenith MK II
2: Innous Statement
3: Baetis Reference server

Was there a difference and was that difference audible yes it was.

The Statement sounded far more realisitic, the soundstage was more dimensional, there was far greater attack with greatly improved dynamics.

The Baetis was reduced in these areas but still sounded very good.

The older MK II Innous which was the least expensive server sounded the worst, with a much flatter soundstage, and reduced dynamics, bass and resolution.

You are welcome to come to our shop and hear the demo for yourself.

So the take away was yes servers over ethernet do sound audibly different. 

As per previous tests we did compare modified Mac Minis over USB vs Aurender, and Auralic servers and the dedicated servers sounded far better.

Again if you think about noise from the CPU and other chips affecting the digital data flowing out of the server which in the case of a Mac is not designed solely to eliminate radiated noise from affecting music signals it should be obvious that a purposefully designed device will always beat a jack of all trades device not designed for that purpose.

Last point:

"Since I use the ps audio DS dac, I haven’t had any corrupt data or any digital waveform corruption processing data thru Ethernet, no lost packets, and no packets out of order. I must have the only Mac that doesn’t corrupt data, lucky me "

How do you know? By your previous assertions that data from a Mac is just as good as a dedicated server it certainly sounds like you have not made that test.

We also didn't say Auralic Aries were junk we did say the previous versions didn't sound that good and the sound quality of digital today is very different from five years ago. 

Ted Smith is a talented engineer but he is not a greater genius then anyone else that makes great digital, and it is impossible to completely extract a pristine digital data signal that one has allready been corupted by noise which is affecting the modulated wave form which contains your binary packets.

Again we did the test three servers, different room, all over the same ethernet network and all three servers sounded different, same track, same durration, exact same volume, same speakers, same amp.

So unlike you we don't work for a hard drive manufactuer we test audio products that are proven to be market leaders. 

So it seems that Innous really does know how to make a fantastic sounding server.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ Innous dealers

@ahofer Nice link you posted. I went through some articles on this bloggers site and came across this very interesting article that is asking the same question as my thread.

The thing I cannot understand is when people like this blogger state that the streamer does not matter and when guys like Audiotroy, Darko, et al say otherwise. I cannot discount all the people saying there is a difference and will do a home demo of some of these music servers and see for myself. Maybe an Innous | Auralic G2 | Sonare microRendu comparison. I will have to wait until later this year when I get a better system to test this out.

Summary:Well then... Let’s wind this down and draw a few conclusions based on the data:

1. If you’re an audiophile who wants low noise performance, go for a DAC with balanced XLR analogue output (and make sure the rest of your system is up to par).

2. While my experience has been that jitter is rather inaudible, if you want low jitter performance, asynchronous USB is generally better than S/PDIF (TosLink or coaxial). Newer DACs like the Oppo UDP-205 and RME ADI-2 Pro FS have excellent S/PDIF jitter rejection so even this difference is minimal. The better your DAC, the more "bits are bits".

3. I remain skeptical of claims that digital streamer devices can affect sound quality significantly unless they are actually changing the data sent to the DAC. As per the tests today, we see that even a computer that’s not "optimized" for audio with ostensibly "noisy" hardware does not actually deteriorate measured playback quality nor actually worsen the noise floor much at all even when put under a very intense processing load. Furthermore, this was tested with the 5-year old TEAC UD-501 DAC rather than newer and potentially better devices.

4. This continues to add to the evidence that "audiophile" computer-based digital "transports" do not make a significant difference to the sound. I cannot subjectively hear a difference either when I play music as I switched around the configurations while measuring. What’s most important remains the quality of the DAC itself. In my opinion, other than the user interface, supported features or the "non-utilitarian" benefits like the esthetics and the "wow factor" of an expensive system, "high end" devices like the Melco previously discussed will make no appreciable difference to the sound quality itself compared to an inexpensive Raspberry Pi connected to the same "good" DAC. As usual, I would like to see evidence to the contrary and challenge the manufacturers of such products (Aurender, Auralic, SOtM, Sonore, Fidelizer, Baetis, Antipodes, Innuos, etc.) to demonstrate objective benefits from the DAC output using their products (please also identify the DAC used and under what conditions).

5. Having said the above, remember that there are indeed subtle differences we can see on objective testing but I certainly would not consider these significant in my system. Be reasonable with your set-up and there should not be any concerns. Obviously, do not do things like put your DAC in close proximity to a powerful computer as the DAC and any poorly shielded cables could pick up electrical interference (one example is the old measurement using my ASUS Xonar Essence One back in the day sitting close to the computer). Remember the importance of low ambient noise in your sound room when enjoying music among other things like room treatments and decent reverb time. EQ’ing and digital room correction make huge differences as well. Also, especially if you have a complex component audio system, make sure to address ground loops if you hear hum.

With oppo 95 105 205, you can always connect to a external hard drive (preferable SSD) . All oppo player has XLR lineout (fixed) and high bits DAC (192/24). No computer needed.
Archimago reads like one of those people that argue that cables dont matter, power cables dont matter, power conditioners are bunk.

Jitter is very audible.

The facts are digital is sensitive to corruption if not people wouldnt hear differences between digital cables or transports.

Also talk to the happy Innous, Aurender, Auralic customers who replaced computers with these devices.

The market does not  lie. Nobody would be purchasing these devices if they didnt produce audibily superior results.

On the  contrary we have a lot of very happy Innous customers.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ innous dealers
Getting from data to music is a tough row to hoe.

A bridge too far for some. : )