A couple observations here. It’s easy to get a home demo, look at Grimm’s website for the dealer list, a few will simply ship you the unit for trial if you are seriously interested and you can hear it yourself. Highly recommended approach…
1. I hesitate to use the word best and I’m not going to use it here. I will say however that certain dealers who sell more expensive streamers/server options use the Grimm in their own rig and not due to cost concerns.
2. Lose the “linear power supply is best” stereotype. Grimm uses a very nice switching supply…just like Nagra, Mola Mola and others who have done the appropriate R&D.
Spoken by someone who frankly is skeptical of reviewers / gear polygamists, even those who gave the Grimm good marks…
No, it's not the best and "Pro" reviewers get paid one way or another.
It doesn't do DSD or USB which is pathetic.
I've heard it and it's more suited IMHO to classical or acoustic music.
Get an Aurender N20 a N30 isn't worth the extra $$$.
I haven't heard the Taiko, Lampizator or Pink Faun streamers but I'm more than happy with my N20.
I replaced an Innuos Zenith Mk3 (Amplifi-Network Acoustics Rubicon Switch-Network Acoustics Muon system-Innuos; Innuos-FTA Sinope-Totaldac D1-Tube-Mk3) with a Grimm Audio MU1 (Amplifi-Rubico-Muon-Grimm-Shunyata Sigma v2 AES-Totaldac).
The Grimm is mind-boggling good. Exceptional in fact. I find the Network Acoustics peripherals are unnecessary with the Grimm but heck, I already own them so they are in the chain. The above commenter who says the Grimm is more suited to classical or acoustic music may be unintentionally biased toward his Aurender setup. That’s all fine but I’m afraid I’ve experienced Aurender and Grimm before making the purchase and I made my decision to go with the Grimm. Its also important to point out that I set out to just upgrade to the Innuos Statement following the introduction of the new Innuos power supply improvement intro but was encouraged by the dealer to consider the Grimm. He handles both. It just sounds like music when you play music… regardless of genre.
Like many of us here on Audiogon, we just keep listening to and demoing gear and when we find something that outperforms what we have we switch. I did purchase the Grimm and have no regrets. Unlike many here on Audiogon, I don’t need or seek confirmation bias or approval from the community at large to validate a purchase. Go listen to Aurender, to Grimm or Taiko or whatever. At this level its about what you prefer and then buy the one you like, not the one liked by me or anyone else. I can say that whatever is going on inside the Grimm is very, very good. Good luck.
Thanks for the thoughts. I’ll stay to seek out a demo, however there aren’t any dealers in Canada! Sometimes companies will work with a local HiFi shop to provide a demo when there are no other dealers around, so I will see if I am able to do that.
@lordmelton , what qualities of the MU1 did you find were more suited to classical and acoustic vs other genres? I don’t really care about DSD and the MU1 is all about the 4X upsampler which is only available with AES, so I don’t think it would make any sense to use USB with the MU1 anyways..
@ghasley , did you directly compare the MU1 to the Innuos Statement (which is undoubtedly great and undoubtedly expensive), Aurender, or other? If so, can you comment on the differences you noted?
Like many of us here on Audiogon, we just keep listening to and demoing gear and when we find something that outperforms what we have we switch. I did purchase @ghasley the Grimm and have no regrets. Unlike many here on Audiogon, I don’t need or seek confirmation bias or approval from the community at large to validate a purchase. Go listen to Aurender, to Grimm or Taiko or whatever. At this level its about what you prefer and then buy the one you like, not the one liked by me or anyone else. I can say that whatever is going on inside the Grimm is very, very good. Good luck.
Agree with the stated sentiment 100%!!!
You have to hear and then select audio components based on only one standard, what you like and enjoy the most, nothing else. No matter how superb someone finds an audio product, there is going to be a dissenter.
This is guaranteed to happen without exception. Subjectivity ensures that opinion and listening impressions will cover the spectrum one end to the other.
I strongly suspect that the Grimm MU1 is an outstanding product. Nonetheless it will not please every single listener, nothing does.
I did not directly compare the Grimm with the Statement. The new version wasn’t out when I was in the market, however, I had heard the previous Statement version, which was impressive. The most recent Aurender I listed to was the W20 and I did not compare directly with the MU1.
I will repeat, at this level, it really is a personal preference. They are each terrific. Also, at this price range, you might consider a flight and overnight stay for a prearranged demo at a US dealer. While I recognize that is a logistical and financial commitment, so is buying something to try blind. Additionally, in this price range, purchasing from a dealer who will provide after sales service/support is well worth the money. A great dealer will save you money, especially if they have been there for you with your other gear. The Grimm MU1 is Innuos Statement level performance with a bit different presentation…maybe a little more organic/natural sounding to my ears. The dealer was kindof like “I will sell you a statement or a MU1 or nothing at all but you really should experience the Grimm”. The advice was sound. YMMV and you will find your sweet spot with any one of these units only by listening/experiencing.
^^^^^ This is very good advice.
The Taiko Extreme is widely acknowledged or advertised as the best streamer but there is no way I'm investing that amount of money in such a small operation.
The Grimm will not give you soaring, razor edged guitar solos, which the N20 will.
Others have other priorities and rightly so.
I love DSD, hate DOP so consider your choices there is no right answer, but I'm happy and so is @ghasley and @charles1dad so that's the most important thing when you can stop worrying about your gear and enjoy the music.
@ghasley , that is good advice. Before I consider a flight, I might check if I can somehow get a demo sent to me locally.
While I do have a good relationship with local dealers, I find that it’s not dealers who help you with issues, but rather the component vendor. I’m not sure I’ve ever spoken to a dealer when I’ve had an issue or question; it’s always been direct to the company that made the component.
Maybe it’s just me but I also have found advice from component vendors to be far more insightful than advice from dealers, provided you understand that advice will from vendors will always be slanted in their favour. I’ve had vendors send me detailed product schematics for example, while teaching me how it works while providing me with advice on how best to use it in my home. Never got anything lat that level of depth from a dealer!
Opinions, and more opinions. I think you need to audition what you can, if you can or buy with return privileges. Living in Big D and traveling 60% of the time I get to audition equipment from all over the world.
This is a chunk of change you are going to spend, I would not use the words here or in a trade rag to make a purchasing decision. This is not a $1000.00 cable.
Just my advice for what it's worth.
Most definitely, will be seeing first about a possible demo. I’m still interested in the Innuos Pulsar too but that is delayed….
I checked and there are no MU1’s for sale used. That would have been a less risky option to buy blind (from a reputable seller or dealer) as I could always resell and lose little to no cash.
I did notice there are a few mint/good condition used Antipodes K50’s for sale online.
That said, I’m interested in opinions on the the MU1, even if they are just subjective opinions. Like to hear what others think…
@ghasley I expect I am not alone in thinking you one of the “best” assets on this forum, always appreciate your contributions and perspective.
OP - I will at some point PM you some names that should help you home demo the Grimm, ultimately it comes down to your ears and preferences.
How can you include Grimm, Aurender and best in the same post?
One basically plays only Roon while the other plays NO Roon.
No "best" about it.
Please don't hold it against Aurender that their gear is unable to utilize Roon.
Aurender gear sounds great and many have found that they enjoy it immensely, same thing goes for Grimm, Taiko, eta al.
Agree that just because a piece doesn’t support a certain format, player, or output connection, it shouldn’t be judged poorly. Roon is not the be all and end all for everyone and in many cases doesn’t sound as good as other players (even if it’s interface is great and it’s “radio” mode is simply fantastic).
Its also imprtant to understand what a piece of gear is doing with the stream. The Grimm seems to intercept the stream and then it goes to work. There are no absolutes.
Here are a couple of facts.
Steve Huff said he would never sell his Heresy speakers. SOLD
He gushed about the Denefrips Pontus DAC saying it was the best he had heard. Not using it.
I think hearing is the only way to go.
After auditioning Aurender N20 at home, I bought N 30 which I am happy.with
But N20 is a good value.
N 30 give very slight more details and clarity but may not be worth twice money.
Have you ever read a review of a product in an audio magazine that wasn’t very positive (best ever heard)? Every review is like that. How about the TAS review of the $70k server that the reviewer (Harley I think) states it was the best ever he has heard and this server was in the Axpona room that was voted the worst room of the show by many.
Better streamer software is from Roon or Audirvana, then LIGHTNING DS, everything else is secondary.
I have not and would never. I like Aurender way better than Roon although I’m doing fine without either.
Just pointing out the absurdity of the OP.
I’ve been perusing many, many other forum posts on other sites that substantiate the pro reports, which is really what I was after with this thread (either support or contradict the pro reviews).
Speaking in absolutes really gets folks on Audiophile forums going, as there of course are none, and it disrespects other great components that are out there.. My apologies for being absurd! :)
General consensus of qualities of the MU1 vs Innuos Statement and Antipodes K50 I found to be:
- The MU1 is organic, natural, transparent, revealing, with class-leading spacial imaging, with great musical flow.
- Versus Innuos Statement which is also truly great but may be slightly less organic.
- And versus Antipodes K50 which is more organic and rich, vs the MU1 but less revealing. K50 also has excellent "musical flow". Detail is described as "dense".
- People talk about musical engagement most with both the MU1 and K50 it seems.
- I don' t quite know where Aurender fits into this mix.
Yes, each of our experiences may vary from the above depending on tastes, systems, and rooms, but these are common attributes described by a mix of pro reviewers AND individuals. I think this helps my understanding, knowing nothing beats my own ears.
I find discussions like this of value because it just such discussions that led me to audition the Gryphon Diablo 300 when I wasn’t finding any amps / preamps I liked in home demo comparisons. I ended up buying the Diablo a few years back and still absolutely love it and haven’t considered upgrading even once. I also find that how people generalize the qualities of the Diablo are 100% consistent with my assessments of it, and why I ended up choosing it when I couldn’t find anything else I could live with in that price range. I even agree with the one or two slightly negative comments on the Diablo 300 DAC module’s sound, but I still love it for it’s good qualities and have no desire to replace it. Hopefully I agree with the consensus on the MU1 when / if I get a chance to audition one, but could easily pivot if I find the consensus to be untrue for me.
There do not seem to be any "Reviewers" willing to do a proper
comparison between top streamers from various companies.
I have been asking myself why for 5 years now. Or did I miss the
last word review someone wrote comparing Aurendar, Innuos, Grimm,
Taiko, Lampizator, LeJonklou etc.
I own the "One Box Solution" Innuos Zen Mk3 and love the thing. Streams, Rips
and Stores. Why all the other makers don't copy this format is beyond my
I recently had the good fortune to attend a presentation of the latest
Linn Klimax Streamer. About $40k if memory serves.
I asked the company owner which enhancement of his new product bears the primary responsibility for its exceptional SQ? Answer, The DAC of course!
There must be someone in the audio world wise enough to do a thorough analysis
of the top streaming gear, fairly compared, and give us some intelligent insights?
@jeffseight , you are right, that is why I've been "mining" user comments from forums. Just a theory but I think when it comes to streamers many have an opportunity to demo a particular brand/model and they just move ahead. While they all have sonic differences, my speculation is that streamers from reputable brands, unlike other HiFi components, all can all sound good to most people. I highly doubt anyone with a great system could listen to an Innuos Statement, an Antipodes K50, or an MU1, in isolation from hearing other similar class products, and think "Nah, that's definitely not for me". But I do think if given the chance to compare, one will be best. Again, this doesn't work for other components - things that sound great to some can sound downright awful to others.
It does seem that quite a few folks who trial the MU1 versus Innuos, Aurender, and Antipodes find the MU1 to be "best" to their ears. Simply from reports in other forums. I have yet to see an account of someone trialing the MU1 against others (BEFORE purchasing) and going with one of the others. Let me know if anyone finds one. @fuzztone this is what I was getting at with this thread with MU1 being potentially the "best" - not that expect that it could be or is.
@jeffseight , HiFi choice is definitely the best pro review site when it comes to streamers. The reviewer doesn't talk like other pro reviewers and gets into actual differences. That said I don't think he's done any Innuos reviews.
@jeffseight There must be someone in the audio world wise enough to do a thorough analysis
of the top streaming gear, fairly compared, and give us some intelligent insights?
I doubt that you’ll find anyone in a position to compare all of the “top tier “ regarded music servers. Probably the closest would be Christiaan Punter’s Hi-Fi Advice site (Netherlands). His reviews are lengthy but thorough.
He definitely does not shy away from doing direct comparisons to competing components. This is refreshing compared with many present day reviewers whom seek not to offend.
Jeff, keep in my even if one were to do this comprehensive comparative review you desire, it’s still only one individual’s opinion and impressions.
@shkong78 Yes, I prefer a one box solution if possible and the extra $$$ can be allocated elsewhere.
Both the N20 and N30 are massively influenced by power cables.
If you get a chance try an Audioquest Dragon PC on your N30, you will then be very close to "The Best".
Direct fair comparisons of streamers is extremely difficult to undertake. What dac streamer is partnered with extremely critical as best port for rendering is unique to each streamer, same goes for dac. Optimal matching means best port on streamer to best port on dac. For instance, Antipodes claims AES/EBU is best port, is this best port on any particular dac it's partnered with? Other streamers claim USB, I2S, in that case usb or I2S should be optimal port on dac.
In regard to general reviews, streaming setups so variable, and likely unique, to point they may hold little value for you. Has network been optimized, what about ISP quality, music player software, optimization of OS, and I could go on.
I believe proper integration or matching of streamer to dac is seriously undervalued at this point in time. Quality of rendering is one of the most critical operations in streaming, matching optimal rendering ports on streamer and dac is absolutely necessary in order to hear full potential of any streaming setup. Far too many reviews don't evaluate streamers in their best light, leave out comparisons of different ports to optimal ports on dacs.
In evaluating streamers on their own, I pay very close attention to how rendering is implemented within streamer, dedicated power supply and clocking on dedicated board is optimal, ports coming directly off motherboard subject to higher noise and less than optimal clocking.
Wise counsel and perspective by you that is par for the course. I understand the wish for an ideal comparison that would unequivocally sort out all of the upper echelon servers. This just isn’t realistic precisely for the reasons you logically presented. Simply too many variables involved.
Well said and spot on. Even the software used for playback has enormous impact. If comparing Innuos to Grimm, be sure the Innuos gear used Sense, not Roon.
Better cabling, footers, fuses etc… all can greatly impact a specific player. Simply too many variables involved for absolutes.
I recently added a $195 SR Purple fuse to my Innuos Zenith and the sonic results were spectacular. I mean shockingly so. This one variable changed so much. My dac sounds best using USB and I have a wonderful sounding USB cable. The Grimm unit is very intriguing, but I cannot use it as its USB output is not very good. So many unique system variables to consider.
@grannyring indeed, the Grimm USB ports are normal, computer quality USB. The AES output which takes advantage of the Grimm clocking/proprietary upsampling et al are otherworldly.
You and I once had identical digital server setups with the Zenith Mk3 and Sense. It is very, very good. Quite possibly, the Zenith Mk3 utilizing Sense may just be where chasing any more performance activates the steepest law of diminishing returns known to mankind. All the best to you....
Bill (grannyring) you and sns emphasize a sometimes overlooked/underappreciated factor which is optimization of signal connection of both the server and DAC. When people say AES is better than USB or RCA SPDIF (Or vis versa) or I2S is better than all others etc. This is not necessarily true. You need to know what the manufacturer deemed the optimized signal connection for the given unit. As we all acknowledge, there are a multitude of important variables that demand thought/consideration.
I use separate isolation transofrmer for N30.
Even though N20 is a better value, I do not regret buying N30.
I bet that Grimm is so enjoyable. Did you add file storage? Curious what digital cable you are now using.
Sorry man, you lost me at “Steve Huff”.
I bet that Grimm is so enjoyable. Did you add file storage? Curious what digital cable you are now using.
2 TB. I have a Shunyata Sigma v2 AES/EBU. Its such an unfussy, flip it on and forget about it piece of gear and I enjoy it. If I had it to do over and if I had acquired the Grimm before my dac, I might have tried some other dacs at lower pricepoints. With the Grimm, since the dac internal clock isn’t utilized, I can’t help but think it might be more dac agnostic than most server/streamers.
@jl1ny , +1 as well! My point lower in the thread is that many individual accounts seem to corroborate the admittedly goofy Huff. And other reviewers too. Christiaan at HiFi Advice is much better - he directly compared the general sonic qualities , all things being equal, between the Antipodes K50 and the MU1. Interestingly, he changed his tune slightly as both brands made hardware and/or software revisions over time. While he at first characterized the MU1 as being quite organic, it seems that with hardware updates he followed up and said the sound has become more neutral, and a bit more “propulsive”. He also said in a video comment that the MU1 has become more lean in comparison with the K50. Two months ago he said this on a YT comment:
Hi Nick, The performance of both servers is codependent on Roon performance but the K50 also allows other server/player solutions which have different relative strengths. In general, though, under equal circumstances, the K50 sounds bigger, richer, fuller, lusher, and more relaxed. The Grimm on the other hand is more refined and precise and cleaner/leaner but arguably more transparent. Both have great focus. The measure of depth and 3D imaging greatly depends on the output format/interface. For the best depth and layering, use the K50’s AES/EBU outputs. Used in that manner, it sounds a little deeper and more enveloping than the Grimm. Tangibility is a little subjective and personal as it ties in with crispness and/or depth perception, depending on what matters most to the individual. Therefore, in terms of tangibility, overall, I would say it’s a tie between the two.
- Kudos to the previous poster for bringing up HiFi Advice. Christian does a great job comparing servers. He seems to specialize on digital.
- Another reviewer, Hans Beekhuyzen, who actually bought the MU1, is now using it as a streamer only because of its CPU limitations it was not able to manage his music library. He uses a NUC as core now.
- Also consider that if you like Roon, single box solutions are much more expensive than separating the streamer from the core. You can have a very good streamer/storage like the Melco N10, and do the processing in an i7 NUC running ROCK with a good power supply and isolated through fiber. This combo beat the 25K Oladra in several high end set-ups where it was being tested, and this is what I bought. By the way, if you read Christian’s review, read the user comments too. There are extra insights there.
- I heard the latest Antipodes Oladra and did not like it. Found it super detailed but too much analytical, while the Melco N10 was much more organic (sounded analog vs digital sounding). It is the best USB output I heard. I am aware it could be a matter of personal preference.
- I understand OP logic of a single box solution. I chose separate boxes for streaming because testing and future upgrading is easier, and is significantly cheaper than single box solutions too, while keeping an outstanding organic sound.
- I agree with most posters. First follow your ears and then consider architecture and cost.
Maybe consider latest iteration of Statement….
@vgmbpty brings up one box vs multi box solution, whole other can of worms. This is where the rendering capability of streamers really comes into play , and I'd agree the one box solution becomes the more expensive proposition, especially if usb is preferred mode. Optimizing other ports may be less costly for streamer manufacturers, which may be reflected in streamer price.
Based on optimal usb rendering via one box solution, my choice in recent streamer purchase came down to Wadax, Taiko Extreme, both above my price level, Aurender W20SE, Innous Statement were others seriously considered, this new Statement looks very nice. All of these do usb rendering at highest level, may be others I'm unaware of. Antipodes K50 also seriously considered as it's very versatile unit. All these have first class power supplies as well. Grimm wasn't in my purview at the time.
Pricing of above units starts at something close to $20k, top flight usb rendering in one box solution costs big bucks in my view. May be reason to reconsider purchasing dac with usb as optimal port for some. Or one can go with two box solution at more reasonable price level.
At this point I'm finding streamers and dacs with optimized AES/EBU to be intriguing, not as difficult, read costly to implement as USB. The above mentioned review of Antipodes K50 compared to Grimm is enlightening. Also like the Antipodes other preferred path of two box solutions via their optimized network ports in K series.
If you consider the K50, then maybe you should also consider the Antipodes Oladra, which is their new flagship.
Any comments for Ayon S10 mkll Signature seems to slip under the radar
I have an Ayon S10 mkll Signature for sale if anyone is interested?
probably not the comment you were looking for, captainsteve? 😊
Just looking basically for comments by owners I am still in the research stage don’t want to regret my purchase
I’d have the Oladra and in particular the new Statement on my list, but need to draw the line on cost somewhere! The new Statement was on my list to start with. Then after I heard from Innuos that for streaming the Pulsar would meet the performance of the regular Statement (not the new one though) at half the cost, it put the cost of the new Statement in perspective for me! If the new Statement was 25-30% cheaper I’d definitely consider it,
Alot depends on our goals but you posting "but need to draw the line on cost somewhere!" is particularly relevant. Optimizing what we do so that it aligns with our sonic values for the $$ we wish to invest is intelligent. Each one of us can probably "afford" whatever we want within reason. I read alot on this site where someone has obviously overspent and we are wise to leave that kindof thing to someone else.
For me, I just don't want my hifi rig to be relevant in any way financially. That's me...other's may choose differently and that's their decision. We have a dedicated listening room but we also have the occasional car that drives past, the HVAC system cycles on/off and our golden retriever will occasionally bark or at least stop by to take a nap...and she snores....and like many here on Audiogon, she will occasionally pass gas.
I mention all of this because its wise that our investment in the gear should never be the end game, we should strive to maximize our enjoyment. The money is secondary. These are appliances that we can appreciate the job they do but they shouldn't be some shrine. In short, it isn't that we can't hear the difference between a Taiko and a Grimm...we can. Same goes for a Grimm and a Bluesound....is the gear going to serve the purpose we want it to serve or not...
“our investment in the gear should never be the end game, we should strive to maximize our enjoyment”.
I couldn’t agree with you more!
@nyev, if you’re in the market for a $10k Grimm music streamer, then you’ve got better problems that I do. Lol. Yes many folks are looking for a one box solution to cut down on all of the plethora of accoutrements that can proliferate in a dedicated listening chain. The fact that you’re apparently wedded to your Gryphon Diablo DAC module is IMO the place where your digital signal is going to be tied up, because no matter how great your streamer is, the whole setup is not going to sound fantastic unless you’ve got the absolutely best DAC that you can justify having. To that point, the ESS Sabre ES9018 DAC chip in the Diablo 300 is bettered by several other manufacturers options. To me it just doesn’t make sense to put a $10K streamer in front of a $4,500 DAC. Ideally I think the other way around would be more effective. Just my $0.02
our investment in the gear should never be the end game, we should strive to maximize our enjoyment”.
I couldn’t agree with you more!