Music Servers - Baetis vs. Music Vault

I, like many, are looking to add a music/media server to my system.

Aside from fabulous sound and performance, I really want ease of use, with minimal involvement from a computer.

My preference would be a unit that has the hardware to rip/store my cd's, download high-rez files from the internet, set up playlists and then kick back and enjoy the music.

As I explore the options in the under $5K price range, both Baetis and Music Vault are floating to the top.

Ripping and playing Bluray is a nice bonus, but not critical.

I'm looking for feedback from anyone who has compared these two brands, in your own system or demo'd at a recent audio show.

Which unit sounds best?
Which unit is easiest to use??
Which unit has the most features???
Which unit is the best value????

Thank you.
Hey barrel chief, I've been looking at these as well as the Musica Pristina units (made by the Spectron guys). Unfortunately, haven't heard any of them, and each takes a somewhat different design tack. My only problem with Music Vault is that there is comparatively little technical data on their website, whereas both Baetis and Musica Pristina have tons of info. Baetis may offer a little more bang for the buck, but my problem with Baetis is that they have focused on BNC-spdif connection versus the current darling asynch USB connection, and seem to have payed little attention to the USB other than to include it. Musica Pristina, on the other hand, has focused on USB, if that's important to you. Very interested in following this thread, and hope some owners chime in (I know "dob" has one of the MP versions and loves it, and Baetis just got a very good review in an e-zine, for what it's worth).
Barrelchief- I can't compare, but I can tell you that I just traded my old MV for an Emerald and it knocked my socks off. Neal has been very easy to deal and his units are easy to upgrade. It's very quiet, plays and rips Hi-Rez and Redbook. I know you can get a blueray drive, not sure if it rips them as well. The MV offers asynch USB, wireless, spdif or AES/EBU out and auto-duplication in a raid set-up. As far as detailed technical data I can't give you much info except that mine runs Windows 7, JR Media Center and dbPoweramp. I'm sure Neal can give you a much more detailed run-down. The only downside I can point to is that it's not audio jewelry. Basic HTPC case w a MV badge. But you do get a choice of black or silver!! ;-)

I've also heard the Antipodes, in an unfamiliar system. It sounded very good but did not have auto-duplication and I THINK it was more designed to work w an NAS or other outboard storage. In my system, that would not have worked very well.

If you're in the Northeast, you are welcome to come hear the MV. Neal is in CO, and has always had a room at RMAF FWIW.
I have used the Antipodes servers at shows and they work flawlessly using USB to practically any DAC or USB converter. The SQ is killer, in fact I can hear no difference between FLAC and WAV files like I do with PCs or Macs. Highly recommended.

Antipodes cables are also some of the best on the market too, if not the best. I used to manufacture silver cables and these are awesome.

No affiliation other than using their devices at shows sometimes.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
If you cant discern flac from wav, your rig is not revealing enough...
I can, just not with the Antipodes. He does a lot of custom software tweaks to make them equal I think.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
I would try to audition both. Baetis has a 45 day trial period. Not sure about Music Vault.
It was a nice surprise - to log on this morning, and see your responses.

I will also take a look at the servers that were mentioned, which were not on my short list.

Keep the comments coming.

I will report back after I sort out everything and pull a trigger.
Why not try a Bryston BDP-1 or -2 and portable HD;s or a NAS. Simple, bulletproof, fab sound.

Your wish list is a description of a computer based music server. Which in my opinion is the only way to go. $5000 buys a great server, assuming you are not including the dac in the price. Check out you will not be sorry.
The more and more I am delving into PC based/Music Servers and CD players (over 5 years hard core now), I am coming to the conclusion that unless I plan on making a nice investment on hi-res and dsd downloads, there really is no benefit to getting a server, as I continue to spin CD's even though I do pretty much burn all my music. I think it is (to me) the same as buying a turn table without intending to buy albums or having a large vinyl library already. The convenience of these servers (to me) is not offset by the lesser sound quality (albeit ever so slightly) than an excellent CD player.

Any update on your search ?
I'm actually looking for same type of server - ease of use, ripping capabilities, stream and storage capabilities (no dac needed). And I might add also that I prefer a display as well.

Can you share your thoughts so far?
So, I have had the Baetis XR2 for about a month now, and I'm very happy with both sound quality and functionality. I'll answer any specific questions anybody may have, to the best of my ability. The one thing worth mentioning, however, is the outstanding personalized technical support provided by John Mingo and his associates, which has made owning and operating this component a real pleasure.
Txlef, I see that you use it in your "HT system", not your much more expensive 2 channel rig. I think the $64,000 question is how does it sound as a transport with your best equipment? Have you tried it in your 2 channel system using the emm labs dac? Does it sound as good as your Cd transport? I have an Esoteric K-03, and I'd love to have the convenience of a music server going into my K-03 dac if it sounds just as good (or at least very close). So I'm looking forward to your response. Regards...Jeff
I would second the support provided by John Mingo - a lovely guy and a class act. I purchased the Baetis Revolution II several months ago for my two channel system but due to work have only recently got around to using it. I have been ripping uncompressed FLAC files of all of my CDs using DB Poweramp on a separate PC and steadily have transferred them across to the Baetis. I am very impressed so far - having played files on JRiver through my APL HiFi DAC through both USB and SPDIF connection. The sound is excellent and whilst I have to give the edge to my APL Esoteric transport it is a mighty close thing on some CDs plus it is so much more convenient being able to access all of your CDs in the one library. I resisted the server approach for a long time - not sure why - maybe locked into the purist approach of listening to CDs individually but this has been a great experience. I am now considering HD Tracks for downloads.
Vicks7, that's very interesting. Couple of questions:
>Is there a difference between the USB and SPDIF outputs in terms of sound quality? Is one better than the other, and by how much?
>Why are you using a separate PC to rip and download into Baetis? Have you tried ripping directly with Baetis, and if so, any difference in sound quality?
>Am I correct in my understanding that the Baetis can operate as a PC/browser (with maybe iPad as head?) and can be used to find/download hi-rez track directly?

Wow, what a pleasant surprise to see others chiming in, in recent days.

Update... I did buy a Baetis Rev-2 and am enjoying it very much.

The sound is very good. I am very pleased.

I have not yet had a chance to get to all of the items on my punch list.

At this point, I've been ripping cd's and getting in some listening sessions.

John and his son Dan have been very responsive and helpful.

I use DBPoweramp in the Rev-2 for ripping, then playback via JRiver. I decided to rip in Wave, not FLAC.

One thing that I really like about using DBPoweramp for ripping is that it will take several passes of each cd, to ensure that it captured all of the data. And, during the process, it shows you these details and confirms when it's gotten a fully accurate rip.

Once you start using it (set up and ripping, etc.) you'll realize that this truly is a computer that has been engineered and dedicated to audio playback. Then, once you start playing back via JRiver, you forget that it really is a computer, and just enjoy the music. I'm not much of a computer guy, and I'm getting by just fine.

Other units may have a few less steps, in the ripping process. For example, in DBPoweramp, I have to click on "rip," when I insert a cd. Whereas, other servers may automatically rip the disc, upon insertion. However, I don't find this to be a major deal

I plan to get to the other features very shortly, and will report back, as I go...

Lastly, Icorem, I'm not sure about your "no dac needed" comment. That was not one of my goals. The Rev-2 feeds my DAC, via its BNC/SPDIF output.
Barrelchief, the big question: how does it compare to whatever you used before as a transport (a CDP, BDP, etc?)?

Also looking forward to responses from txlef and vicks7.
I made other front end changes at about the same time that I brought in the Rev-2. Therefore, I did not get in a lot of "critical" listening, and comparing the Rev-2 to my transport.

With that being said, I am comfortable in saying that my perception is that the sound that the Rev-2 puts out is as good, if not better than when I was using a transport.

I also will tell you that my digital front end, with all of the recent changes, has never sounded better!
Thanks for the detailed info on the Baetis. What I meant is that I'm looking for a Dac-less unit as there are several brands on the market with an onboard dac that for me is useless. I believe the baetis is indeed dac-less right ?

Correct, the Baetis Rev-2 has digital outputs, to connect to your DAC.

It does not have an onboard DAC.

In response to your questions:

Q1: Is there a difference between the USB and SPDIF outputs in terms of sound quality? Is one better than the other, and by how much?

A1: A good question and in general much of this is dependent on the DAC design. As I understand it, some DAC designers will invest more in the USB output than the SPDIF output. Alex from APL Hi-Fi can chime in here but I believe he invested equally in both which I would expect at this price point. I have been ABing between the two for the last week or so and I cannot consistently distinguish one as better than the other.

Q2: Why are you using a separate PC to rip and download into Baetis? Have you tried ripping directly with Baetis, and if so, any difference in sound quality?

A2: No real reason other than to preserve the optical drive in the Baetis which can also rip Blue Ray discs. I ripped a few discs on the Baetis, also using DB Poweramp, and for me, no difference.

Q3: Am I correct in my understanding that the Baetis can operate as a PC/browser (with maybe iPad as head?) and can be used to find/download hi-rez track directly?

A3: Correct. I was using my Windows laptop over the weekend to remotely control the Baetis at the listening position but there is also software for the Ipad as well to take control of JRiver. I also downloaded some High-Res files direct into the Baetis using the internet browser from HDTracks. Note that Baetis restrict the websites that you can access to preserve system integrity.
Vicks, thanks much for the info. Honestly, I find it very interesting and a bit odd that the Baetis sounds so good via it's USB output when John Mingo readily admits that he didn't really do much with USB other than to include it, preferring to focus on BNC-SPDIF output because he believes it sounds better. So we have a fairly standard USB output (no soTm usb card or the like), with a switch mode PS (as opposed to the heavily favored Linear PS), and an almost fully functioning PC (with the OS and associated browsing/ripping/playback applications running), all of which seems to run counter to what many other server builders contend (including just about everyone at Computer Audiophile, Steve Nugent of Empirical Audio, Antipodes, Lumin, Musica Pristina, Aurender, Mojo, Core, etc.). I just don't see the special sauce here, so it makes me wonder if any server will work well within reason. I am just about to pull trigger on either Musica Pristina or Antipodes, as it seemed they put more effort into their servers and especially their USB output, but all this Baetis-appreciation is making me pause and consider. Look forward to more input. Thanks again...
I'm late to this thread, but wanted to throw another option into the mix. I used to use my MacBook Pro/Amarra/off ramp 4/dac combo as my source and felt this combo was excellent sounding. About 5 months ago I got a Salk Stream Player which is a Linux based music server. It play any high resolution files and DSD. It is takes the approach of being streamlined to only play music files and nothing else. There are no buttons, no display, no remote, no disk drive and no fans. There is a 2 TB hard drive built in to store all the files. It is controlled by an ipad using the Mpad app. It's output is USB only. It retails for $1295. I have no affiliations other than being a satisfied customer.

The Salk Stream player sounds better in every way from my previous source listed above. Music sounds natural and realistic with a huge sound stage. It is definitely worth looking into. The designer Jim Salk delivers the best customer service in the industry in my opinion.
While I am very happy with the sound that Baetis is sending to my DAC, I think the simple truth is that music server designs & options have come a long way, and we now are fortunate to have several viable choices.

I very likely may have been just as happy with the Vault, or Salk or Antipodes, etc.

I did not have the opportunity to compare. I pulled the trigger with Baetis and am very happy with how my system sounds.

I don't think that it's a case that only one is good and the others are bad. I suspect that many of the options are good. And, that's a good thing for us - the consumers, and the industry.

I joined a'gon almost 15 years ago. Back then, I had the time to chase my tail with every last detail. Today, I just want to push the power button, and enjoy the music.

With the server options that are out there today, and will continue to rise, I/we are one step closer to that.
Barrelchief, that's exactly what I was alluding to in my last post. I suspect that, based on all the positive reviews for virtually every server out there, most servers do a very good to excellent job at "serving", even though they may use different methods to achieve their results. My specific comments about the Baetis lacking "special sauce" refers to the voluminous reviews and comments I've read that focus on Linear power supplies, fanless designs, sotm usb cards, stripped down OS and no bloated applications like Jriver, etc, as some of the keys to better server sound. The Baetis has none of this and yet still seems to offer very good sound. Perhaps, as I said earlier, just about any server can sound very good. I guess the only way we will know is when people actually compare these purpose-built servers to each other, and not to basic or even tricked out Apple products and Windows-based laptops.
Actually, let me not sell the Baetis short, as if they do nothing special. They do indeed, but differently, and claim their different methodology sounds better. They specifically focus on a "perfected" SPDIF-BNC output directly from a special motherboard. That's THEIR special sauce, but it is significantly different than most other server architecture.
Hi Erndog. Are you using the Off Ramp 4 with the Salk Stream player? Which DAC are you currently using? Thanks in advance.
No, I'm not using the off ramp anymore. I sold it to fund the Salk stream player. I would love to hear how it sounds with the Salk, maybe in the future.

I'm using a modded MHDT Stockholm dac. Other dacs I've had are: Nuforce Dac-9, Empirical Audio Oversrive SE, and the Chord Qutehd. All were great sounding dacs, but the MHDT sounds the least digital and the best match for my rig.
...any server WILL work well, within reason. USB is the lowest fidelity interface. It is the least 'engaging'. USB (even the best implementation, which is an oxy-moron), I find, sucks the emotion out of the music.
If Cerrot is correct then it truly is a shame that this industry has been forced to (or has chosen to) focus on USB, simply because most computers don't have spdif outputs, etc.
USB is like a belly button - every puter has it. USB kept users from having to open their puters, mess with drivers, etc - it saved a ton in customer service. if you remember, usb was created to connect printers, key boards, mouse. If you look at a USB bus implementation, and how it behaves with IRQ settings, its realy the wrose what you can try to transmit audio. It actually gets worse. If you study the way data is passed on a usb cable, you can see it is much more complicated than just developing an asysch relationship to the slave. I do believe that if an engineer take's it seriously, and has no cost to work within, you can develope a decent USB interface (look at the Berkeley), but you are realy going the long way around... and the usb interface is much more susce[table to jitter, and a ton of other effects.
Get a decent PC or Mac and stick the extra $1300 into your rig. Baetis PITA is my experience.
USB (even the best implementation, which is an
oxy-moron), I find, sucks the emotion out of the music

Wow! What a statement! If USB is sucking the emotion
out of your music, your system has issues elsewhere.

I have been using a 2006 Mac Mini given to me by my son to drive an
older OffRamp USB-SPDIF converter into the way-ahead-of-its-time
Manley Ref DAC. The MAC was updated to 2 GB RAM, a 160 G SS drive,
added a 2 TV Omega drive and Snow Leopard OS. The system has
worked flawless for several years .running under iTunes! Yes I know, I
will look into JRiver soon.

And tonight I took delivery of a Lampizator Big L6. With a VUE V3 USB
cable straight from the MAC to the L6, the sound (3D) is simply stunning.
The Manley/OffRamp is impressive indeed, but the L6 is at a new level of
performance for me. Delineation, clarity, ultra smoothness, decays, all at
new levels of refinements. And I have been a diehard Analog user for

I would put the old old MAC and L6 pair against any super decked-out
server/transport/converter and DAC. In fact the Manley/OffRamp pair
would embarrass many highly touted "new" digital setups.

There's been so much talk year after year about transports being the
more significant contributor. After comparing so many CDP's as
transports and going through a slew of DACs over the years, I continue
to be in the minority camp that feels the DAC and its PS and output stage
to make a greater difference. And the L6 is another example in DAC
technology improvement that brings on a level of refinement that I have
yet to hear from a digital data transfer "update". Looks like
Lukasz got the USB "right" here.

I have no desire to spend a fortune on a server update until the MAC
dies. And the performance with the MAC straight into the L6, I have no
longing now to "upgrade" the digital data link. Tube rolling,
power systems and isolation will be much better places to focus updates.

So my tip would be to start with a simple server, perhaps used MAC, get
the digital system up and running, pour as much as you can into the DAC
and then go back to refine the digital data if you desire. As stated above,
you could have a killer server starting for $1300 or so.


John, after you dump iTunes, dump USB.
Cerrot - I will make a deal with you. I will 86 iTunes if you do the same with the Ayre line stage. It may have a black background but it's dimensionally flat as a pancake. I believe this is why USB is lacking emotion in your system. May I suggest the Aesthetix Callisto Signature to mate well with the Rhea.
Here we go.......