Takedown of pricey servers, streamers OCD HiFi guy


Not sure if anyone caught this, but it's quite the take down of some of the very expensive server/streamer stuff out there. It seems logical to me -- especially when he prices out what some of the internal components are -- but this is above my pay grade so I cannot confirm. It's here: https://youtu.be/MMSC9-qQ_K4

Wonder if others agree or disagree with the basic takedown.
8700e65e 845e 4b1b 91cc df27687f9454hilde45
There's very little logic in high end audio.  It's luxury goods driven by emotions.  The scenario you are laying out has been repeated endlessly.  People without the necessary funds to play the game questioning others' expensive toys.  Why even bother bringing it up?
I'm using a Raspberry Pi 4 as my Roon endpoint, so, yes. :)
@onhwy61 I suppose there was no reason except that I didn’t know it and this video was just released. I thought that with all I had read about jitter, and clock timing, etc. there might be something to very expensive streaming/serving equipment as there often can be with other expensive things. And some expensive audio (maybe not ultra high end but expensive) really does have better build, parts, etc. It's not just emotion up to a certain price point.

But I had never heard that there were cheap ASUS parts inside some of the most expensive of them. This, for me, was revelatory. But you’re right, there are many who know this already, so I apologize for delivering old news to them. They can skip this post at will.
@hilde45,

Old news but I would take his videos with grain of salt 😊

I say this, it’s convenient to berate a product and overlook R&D, resources put together to bring that finished products to the market.

“It seems logical to me -- especially when he prices out what some of the internal components are”

Just ask him how many servers he has built and sold.....
Your comments are always tinged with a bit of healthy scepticism. Keep following your nose and like many others you might discover that in audio, price in not always a good indicator of product performance especially in digital audio.
“price in not always a good indicator of product performance especially in digital audio.”

Very true, different strokes for different folks. Some people are happy with raspberry pi 4 in their closet, others are ecstatic with Taiko Extreme 😊
To the OP, you can buy a watch that will keep accurate time for $20, or you can pay $20k for a watch that also keeps accurate time.  Pride of ownership is a powerful consumer motivation.  The expensive watch will look and feel really nice, but it won't keep better time and that's entirely besides the point.  You don't have to spend gobs of money to get good audio performance, but the best will cost you serious coin.
thought that with all I had read about jitter, and clock timing, etc. there might be something to very expensive streaming/serving

Jitter and clock timing are solved issues and have been for about 10 years. If there is anything you need to take with a grain of salt it's this. Raspberry Pi 4 and a competent built $200 DAC will perform beyond the threshold of human audiblility. 
Points taken. He’s talking about units with $5k worth of parts that get fancy chassis that then charge $20-$30k. He says in the video he’s ok with charging $10k for such units and that he’s not dogging people who want to buy for chest-thumping reasons, but he’s pointing out that for those who don’t know (like me) there’s no $$s going toward anything audio related up that high. While it's true that "the best will cost you serious coin" I think we'd agree that it should cost "serious coin" because it is designed and built with serious skill and parts all the way through.

There is a way of commenting in audio that takes the easy way out -- to bash the rich or luxury goods. And I agree that’s too easy and not really of interest to people interested mainly in sound and value. I don’t think that’s really his game, overall, here, but it’s kind of his hook. (That old, "Hey, kid, I’m going to let you in on a secret" gambit.)

I’m not really that taken with this guy, but he makes some interesting points. Hans Beekhyzen, Darko, seem much much more rational as educators among the video ’casters. Kind of regret posting this thread.
Your comments are always tinged with a bit of healthy skepticism. Keep following your nose and like many others you might discover that in audio, price in not always a good indicator of product performance especially in digital audio.
+1 .. and don't regret bringing it up.


A consultant walks into a factory full of complicated machinery. He is told that one of the machines has stopped working and is impacting the production schedule that could result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue. He walks up to the machine, spends about 10 minutes inspecting the innards, and finds and replaces the faulty part -- a screw. He later sends an invoice for $1000. The company accountant balks at the bill and asks, "really! $1000 for replacing a $5 screw?" The consultant replies, "yes, $5 for the screw and $995 for my knowledge and the cost of acquiring it."
You could also apply Mike’s logic to his own products; Verastarr AudioFoils cost thousand to purchase but only have hundreds in cost of materials.

Are his products also a "complete toss and/or shaft" as he put it?


@jayrossi13 Excellent point. (I'll comment with that  It’s possible that his point is true and it applies to his own practices, too. But the takeaway (for me) would be that his point is true.
The less simplistic way to look at the costs that go into manufacturing a piece of equipment would be to consider R&D costs, payroll, insurance, rent, cost of BOM, etc.

Then there’s value (which is relative) to consider. I use an Innuos Zenith because I wanted a complete solution that didn’t require any tinkering or building on my part--and that’s the value that I find in their product that justifies the price point. Others may want to roll their own and won’t find the same value.


Agreed. He's mainly aiming at the insane markup people, and is accounting for all the factors you mention. But it's pretty clear if someone is charging enormous $$'s and is putting a cheap Chinese gamer board inside a fancy chassis, then there is chicanery at work. This doesn't happen (he mentions) with Pass or Jeff Rowland etc. He's calling out those who are putting sawdust in the meatloaf, so to speak.
That is an interesting video that does make some valid observations about some streamers and servers.  But, as he noted in the video, there are some streamers with proprietary boards and components in them that are optimized for the task.  As he noted, streamers have to store the digital files and extract those files which is a much more demanding task than streaming.  I also found it interesting that he has found that WAV is an audibly better way to store music files than FLAC; this is an observation made by others as well (my streamer stores in WAV).

There are streamers that are far more than computer boards and generic power supplies repackaged in another box.  The one I have comes in three boxes--one has a proprietary CD ripper and 8TB of storage, another box contains the streamer and the DAC, and the third box is a dedicated power supply for the streamer/DAC.  The streamer/DAC is fed power by multiple separate feeds from the power supply.  Internally, the streamer/DAC employs some fairly extreme measures to isolate sensitive functions form vibration as well as electrical interference.  One section employs a faraday cage, with the digital signal converted to optical in order to pass through the faraday cage before being converted back to an electrical signal.  Do any of these measures matter?  I don't know, but, I do get pretty decent digital sound from my setup. 
Lexicon and Oppo, all over again?
This articles dives deep into what Taiko Extreme is all about...I do realize $26K is lot of money. The OCD guy picks on Taiko but conveniently spares Jeff Rowland’s....maybe he has a vested interest in JR :-)

https://audiophilestyle.com/ca/reviews/reality-quest-going-to-extremes-with-the-taiko-audio-sgm-extr...

Speaking of extreme....one can buy class D amp for $500 then why one would pay $58K for JR’s 925 mono’s?

https://www.11stereo.com/poweramplifiers
@larryi Very interesting setup. An Italian friend of mine with some lovely Maggies and VTL mono blocks built a nice setup -- two computers he built (kits make it easy) that are as simple as possible -- one is a server and that’s connected to another, which is a streamer, and they’re connected by an optical cable. Both are fan-less and both have linear power supplies. The big cost was the power supply. 
I do believe there is “ some “ merit in what he says. If you breakdown associated costs, you also have to factor in the amount of time and research, parts selection design execution, beta testing, building, marketing, reviewing ,  etc. that goes into these products, and yes, you are paying for that in the price, which I believe may account for 60-80% of the finished retail pricing, yet, I do not have the expertise and knowledge to do this myself, therefore, I try and find something used within my budget that represents good overall value and has taken most of its depreciation already. I rarely, if ever post what’s in my system as bragging rights I am not really interested in much. No matter what I own, somebody will have something better. Bottom line, there is a cost to playing this game and each person must decide what that cost will be “ for them “
Points taken. He’s talking about units with $5k worth of parts that get fancy chassis that then charge $20-$30k.
If you think a $5k parts cost and a $20K retail don't add up I would caution you not to get into business. Parts cost plus labor plus profit margin plus dealer markup you can get there pretty quickly. And that doesn't take into account other costs such as rent, employee salaries and benefits, not to mention R&D costs.

I have 5 <$1K so absolutely.

Points taken. He’s talking about units with $5k worth of parts that get fancy chassis that then charge $20-$30k.

@jond Good point. I think the reason he’s making this argument is *not* because he doesn’t understand the factors you mention (he is in the business, so he’s aware) but he’s saying that there are some companies that do all that for a fraction of the others, and the others he’s calling to task are putting cheap boards in theirs. I think we’ve basically hit all the main points on this topic, and I’m not sure we’re pushing toward a point beyond those we’ve exhumed.

Another way of simply identifying what he’s talking about would be to leave him out of it and ask a simpler question -- e.g., "Are there any streamers or servers out there that are way overpriced for what you get?"

It would be hard to imagine the answer to that question could be "no." And as it was pointed out near the start of this thread (basically, calling out why I started the thread at all), if we answer the question "yes," then the response is, "So what? Just don’t buy from them if it offends you." His larger point, I think, was simply to say, there’s no quality/sonic reason things *have* to cost exorbitant amounts.


I enjoyed Mikey's video and I see his point. But he defended Aurender and their proprietary parts. And Jeff Rowland should not be included in any discussion of overpriced amps. You can buy his Model 125 for $3,000 and it kills for value. Or you can max out at his top models. Jeff Rowland is beyond reproach. You can't compare any of his amps to a music streamer.

Anyhow, I have been looking at HiFi Rose's 150 as a decent value. But I don't need a DAC so hopefully they come out with a 150 sans DAC. I'd like a decent music streamer but not above $2,000.
He sells Rowland so if course he praises him. He also sells some extremely high dollar streamers( rockna). Bet he didn’t bash them. If there’s 5k in parts l, I’d consider 20k a deal for retail cost. 
How I am going to get my time back?

I hoped to see how different machines look inside and how those parts look.

Instead of that, I got to watch some messy-looking guy wave his hands all throughout the video. Why am I supposed to believe him?

Click, click, click. Bait successful.
the ocd guy is a real enthusiast, very intellectually curious and knows alot, certainly makes some good points

but he is really hard to watch
@hilde45 OP

I can so agree with what you say - and how you phrase it. 

I wish I had your command of the English language in making your point, 10/10!

No warble, no waffle and put so succinctly - that - is a gift! 😊 
Michélle 🇿🇦 

@justmetoo thanks so much for your nice comments!

@glupson How are you going to get your time back? One thing you could do is learn how to scrub through a video quickly so you can see if it has what you want in it. Or you can take tomorrow off from checking the forum and get your time back that way. So sorry to waste your time.
@glupson

if and when you figure out how to get your time back, can you please pm me and share with me? 😂
I use  a new M1 mac mini as my roon core and run nothing else on it. I feed my dCS bartok over the network input to avoid any possible noise over the usb and for convenience sake. The mac mini cost me $650 and I could also use it as my media center if I wanted to. 
hilde45,

"One thing you could do is learn how to scrub through a video quickly so you can see if it has what you want in it."


You are correct. I will be more careful with following your (mis)lead in the future.
As @jond said, 4xBOM cost for retail is hardly out of line. When I worked for a small-run electronics firm making medical equipment, it was priced at about that . . . and we didn’t have dealers taking a cut. R&D are expensive, as is small-run manufacturing in general.


Also, expensive streamers usually come with expensive tech support. Live people answering questions are costly.
He has a point... I am a 30+ year IT professional and was scratching my head about what some of these network streamers / music servers costs.  I am sure higher end units provide better experience but it is definitely way past the point of diminishing returns.  I say... if it is worth it to you, go for it... I am ALL FOR Free Market forces at work..  Just like people buying $500 turntables vs $50K turntables...  $1000 speakers bs $1M speakers...  Same diff....
I have been streaming now for many years and I have gone through MANY streamers. From £300 in the early days up to £17,000 and it is clear to me that the more I pay the better the result. Value for money is subjective so that does not enter the debate for me. I just listen. I am taking delivery of the Taiko Extreme next Wednesday, so will be interesting as that is my highest price point so far!
Oops I meant servers ..... I now stream (DCS Vivaldi Upsampler) and serve ..!
I take it that those defending the uber expensive streamers and the multi-times markup are asserting that the answer to this question -- "Are there any streamers or servers out there that are way overpriced for what you get?" -- is "no" because of the  

@glupson Yes, probably best for you to avoid my threads. I don’t need the conflict and you don’t need to waste your time. Win win.
hilde45,

"I don’t need the conflict..."

You are full of advices for me so you may take one from me, too.

If you do not need the conflict, do not start threads fishing for conflict.
@glupson I’m not fishing for conflict. I’m seeking to see if others who know better than me can refute a video which is trying to do that. I am looking for refutations or affirmations of the claim in the video because I literally do not know if it is correct and want others to help sort through it. You can see here that people are doing that. Mission accomplished. It's incorrect to interpret me as fishing for conflict, but truth is in the eye of the beholder. Bye.
hilde45,

If that is the case, claims in the video are not worth much. Speaker's words are supported by speaker's words only. It appears to be one of the videos that is there to attract clicks for whatever reason. It goes on for 16 minutes of saying virtually nothing substantial which is another red flag that trustworthiness is questionable at best. I understand that the speaker has a reputation of being valuable in Hi-Fi world, but his claims are, so far, only claims with not even a hint of proof that what he is saying is remotely true.
I didn’t watch all of the video because I can’t stand watching the guy. The notion that these uber expensive streaming/serving devices are worth the price is up to the buyer to decide. If they are claiming they sound better than less expensive devices I would be very skeptical and look for verification, subjective anecdotal flowery prose is not verification. I believe the Taiko Taiko Extreme is one of the devices. I have not heard it but I have researched it. I grant that it does everything it claims. It looks to be a very well made streamer/server. Does it sound better than cheaper units? From what I’ve seen I doubt it very much. This is where I have trouble with these types of devices, I don’t really care what they cost or what anyone buys but I do take exception when they claim superior sound without showing why?
I can or anyone can put their server in another room, there goes the noise advantage out the window, put a decent streamer as an endpoint, DAC that measures beyond human hearing in SINAD, THD+ N and listen to each blind and pick which is which,  better than  chance. All you ever get is anecdotes like above, every time I spend more it sounds better, well Duh?
I never take these YouTube guys seriously unless they are showing me why. One good YouTube guy to watch is Erin’s Audio Corner. He uses measurement equipment to show why a certain speaker behaves the way it does. He interviews speaker designers and engineers. Gives you real verifiable useful  information not just A sounds better than B because my golden ears tells me it does.
Post removed 
@hilde45,

I said in my first post. Take OCD video / opinions with grain of salt. He often picks on products that he doesn’t sell for the sake of educating audiophiles. Not saying there isn’t any truth what he says but did he actually showed us a product in the video with cheap parts and fancy case work bidding for our top dollars?

I am all for buyers beware type of videos. But the attached video isn’t one of those, in fact far from it. What you hear is a raves and rant of a man who just doesn’t quite understand the extreme build of Taiko. If he did, he would have dissected each part and showed us how much something like that should cost...just by waving hands and saying oh something like that shouldn’t cost more than $5K or so just goes to show his poor taste and bad choice of words.

You want affirmations, read the 3 part review of Taiko.

https://audiophilestyle.com/ca/reviews/reality-quest-going-to-extremes-with-the-taiko-audio-sgm-extr...
Ok, well I feel quite satisfied that OCD is not worth taking very seriously. I also better understand the skepticism at my posting the video. I really thought he had more credibility than he does. You all have done a good job at showing me that, and as a relative newbie, I will take my lesson with good humor.

As a relative audio newcomer, it has sometimes been hard to start conversations because I don't want to go over old ground or seem to be stirring up controversy for no reason. I know people do that and then are disingenuous about their motives. But that is really not me. Glupson, I am sorry for my tone, earlier. 
As someone who knows very little about streamers and servers I found the video informative on the sort of basic level needed to begin looking. Thank you for posting this.
@lubachl

I recommend watching following videos for your journey into streaming, enjoy!

https://youtu.be/E5rGHPYh3E0

https://youtu.be/tT-qby5q3V0
Thank you, I‘ll check them as I need to get on board with this technology.
Alot of people want to talk R&D, that's why the price is what it is.
Well watch OCD's video when he opens an innous streamer.
It's a box full of parts any consumer can buy off the shelf. Way over priced in my opinion.
If you open my DAC's by Cees Ruetenburg, Metrum Acoustics Pavane and Sonnet Morpheus what you will see is proprietary technology (DAC Modules) and high quality inputs (USB I2S ect) and power supplies (toroids) also lundahl transformer coupled (Pavane).
I can actually see (and hear) why they are priced the way they are.

Disagree ... the 'Takedown' (by OCD) is not a valid criticism because no evidence of knowledge are cited. Only misguided opinion.
One quick trip to SGM Extreme Music Server web site provides seven bullet points highlighting design consideration.
For example:
"  The Extreme is built for bit perfect output without up sampling the data stream to cater to the latest premium R2R and Sigma/Delta D to A converters. With bit perfect streaming, system latency (= active processing time) becomes a significant part of the resulting sound quality. In our design of the Extreme, we focused on providing the lowest latency possible for every instruction or set of instructions the server has to manage. ".  
The video starts with a flow chart explanation of components used to render audio files. 
Which appears to be the focus of the posted video and criticism of ' over
priced Gear ' as an aside.
A reference to lower priced ' Streamers ' is a bit more to the point - comparison in terms of value of dedicated renderer for Roon, Tidal, and Qobuz vs. PC / Mac.
I would state that a personal PC custom built and optimized for playback
could be more cost effective but not equivalent. 
Another note is that a ' proprietary ' board is not a guarantee of anything.
My opinion ...
# cheap Asus parts ... this I would also take exception to as well.
@hilde45 if the implication is that Asus is equivalent to ' Cheap ' or that Taiko is somehow offering a misrepresented product is irresponsible and
does not serve a meaningful discussion.