Which server / renderer to buy?

I listen mostly to rock and jazz using a Rogue Audio Cronus Magnum with KT120 power tubes.  I listen to both vinyl and digital.  My digital streams my music library or Tidal via ethernet CAT6a from my iMac to a W4S modified SONOS Connect thru a Schiit Audio Gungnir Multi-bit ("Gumby") DAC.  My speakers are Spatial Audio M3 Turbo S with a Paradigm sub.  My room is 17' x 24', but I listen close up - 10' from the speakers / speakers 3' from the wall.  I'm considering an upgrade of the SONOS because I would like to stream hi-res and have greater capacity (my library is larger than the SONOS metadata capacity).  I'm thinking about the Aurender N100H.  Any suggestions?  Thanks.
Look into Antipodes.  I have the DS GT,  that replaced my Bryston BDP2. I recently listened to the Antipodes DX in my system. I submit their music servers are simply outstanding. 

@pg62 - what level of hi-res are you thinking of? > 24/192

I use a Blusound Node-2 and it goes up to 24/192.

I found it sounded much better than my Bifrost/V-link192 combo

I like everything about the Node-2 - won't be leaving my system anytime soon. It responds very well to great cables (PC and IC's)

Aurender N100H - that seems like a lot of money for what it does.  And you are still stuck with USB output to a dac, correct?  For a tiny fraction of what the N100H, you could just connect a NAS or HDD to a Rpi and use a I2s to spdif hat or an I2s dac.  Most likely, better sound quality as you avoid USB output, works with 32/384 files and you can stream to any other device on the network.  This is exactly what Bryston is doing with their Pi player but charging over a grand. 
I liked the Auralic Aries better than the aurender's and purchased it. I had it hooked up to my external w4s dac 2 dsd. Much better than the Mac mini server with audirvana 2. I have since sold the Auralic Aries and purchased the ps audio directstream with bridge ii. This eliminates the use of a USB from music server to dac
I use USB from my Antipodes DS GT to my Rowland Aeris DAC. I prefer it over my previous Bryston BDP2 and Aeris DAC connected via AES. Antipodes prefers a USG connection, so in my case I don't understand the issue with USB from music server to DAC?
Thank you all.  I realize from all these helpful posts that the way to go in digital is very far from consistent among audiophiles and the audiophile press.  The articles I've been reading make my head spin - too many options, I suppose.  I should have stated in my initial post that I am trying to find something as plug and play as my SONOS.  I had been watching a YouTube video on ripping CDs to a Bryston unit and it looked like a nightmare getting the metadata right.  I've heard that raspberry pi and the like (Bryston) are tough to optimize.  Ricred, is the Antipodes easy to use?  Rbstehno, how do you like the PS Audio DirectStream?  Williewonka, yes 24/192 is my focus.  In regard to the Blue Sound, I'm not sure it would be a quantum leap from my modded SONOS.  Thanks again, everyone.

I’m not sure why you are using the Sonos at all? I use a small form Asus Vivo PC that outputs optical to my dac. I know its not PMC ready but I do have the usb for that (i know your trying to get away from that). I’m just wondering what the Sonos connect does for you other then add another box in the chain. I would assume the mac will do similar if not maybe its the week link and a dedicated music server is the better choice.

I stream Tidal / Roon from the PC app on my Vivo PC and the PC connects to my network and NAS so I don’t need another box.

I do like the Blue sound node 2 for simplicity and user interface so I may go that way maybe that’s something to look at. I listened to a blue sound vault two as well as a Sonos in my system as my friends shop sells both and the Blue sound vault 2 is far better then the sonos for sound.

I'd be interested to see what you end up with as i'm also considering a Digital change / upgrade.

To try to simply all of your options, you need to determine your budget. My other advice is to look at components through the lens of preference, as opposed to better. Many components are system/room dependent and the user’s ear. My favorite saying is, "there are no absolutes in audio, only preferences." I had a Directstream DAC and prefered the Bricasti M1 DAC. I moved from the M1 DAC to the Jeff Rowland Aeris DAC. Is one "better" than the other? No, I had a preference for the Aeris, that may be due to the synergy with the other Jeff Rowland Components I have.
The great thing about the Antipodes is I can rip CDs by just inserting them and Tidal sounds really good. I have 2TBs of hard drive space and manage my music with my IPad and Roon. The bad news is my initial thoughts were Roon wasn’t intuitive. After a small learning curve I submit my Antipodes DS GT/Roon combination is user friendly and sounds great. I hope this helps!
I would agree with those who suggest a configuration by passing the USB port.  I use Sonore Rendu linked from a CAPS computer with an ethernet CAT 6 crossover cable.

"You agree with those who suggest a configuration by passing the USB port." Have you directly compared a music server that's designed to utilize the USB port to one that used a different output? If not, what do you base your opinion on?

Look into the Innuos products. Very complete package, comes with storage, rips CDs, and their entry-level starts at $1299. 


I have been using Auralic Aries..I think for that amount of money, they're a killer. If you have bigger budget, go for Auralic Aries G2 instead.
Y'all just can't WAIT to spend your money.  Some people can't believe something is any good unless it costs enough to feed a family of 4 for a year.  I'd pick up a used Windows laptop ($200), throw out the hard drive and pop in a new 3TB drive ($150) and load up Ubuntu Linux (free) and install the Banshee music player (free).  Then I'd have a music system with a graphical interface, similar to JRiver,  that gets it all done.  Oh, and it also plays from Internet streaming sources.

But please.  Don't let me stop you from spending 10 times as much on a gizmo that will be worth less than half that much in 2 years.

I asked the same question about upgrading sonos and called Wyred4sound about it.

Dont waste your money on upgrading old technology that does not support 24 bit and after using Roon is an poor interface. 

i went with a microRendu +LPS-1 linear power supply.  I use Roon as my media library.  Nothing comes close ton competing with Roon.  The microRendu connects to the Schitt Yggy -> Prima Luna HP -> Aerial Acoustic 5T with a m&k sub.    Could not be happier and music is like being in front of the performer.

Hope that helps.  

PG62- I've been looking in the same realm as you.  Not solving your "problem" here but I think I'm gonna hold out for the new wyred 4 sound server/streamer that is coming out this summer.  I enjoy their products and expect big leaps in interface quality over previous ms-1 they make.  It streams, rips CDs, serves, renders and is roon-ready.  Seems like a good all-in-one option.  I value simply and fewer "boxes" in my system.  Happy hunting.  Josh
I’m going to throw in my two cents and suggest you seriously consider experimenting with any of the new crop of DACs for Raspberry Pi such as the HiFiBerry.

I think the high-end community is slow to adopt, and resistant to, newer technology that doesn’t have at least four digits in the price tag. And I tend to understand that, having seen a bunch of crappy equipment come and go over the years.

However, I think for the investment of under a hundred bucks, you might find yourself very surprised by the performance of something like the DAC+Pro (in fact, they just released an XLR version) to render your bits to analog. There’s a wide variety of software to choose from, including JRiver. I’m running Moode right now, but Volumio is also very good.

Here’s a post I made over at the MartinLogan Owners forum that you may find of interest: CLICKY

As to the metadata, it’s a matter of what you use when ripping your collection and from which database the information is pulled. Opinions are all over the map in terms of which software and source of data is best for this purpose, but the upside of a solution like the HiFiBerry is that you’re not forced to use what the vendor chooses.

Anyway, why not give it a shot? I think you’ll be very surprised by the results.

Hope this helps!
I see several comments regarding wasting money. Who determines if something is a waste of money? Of course the individual does. We can't put value on something for someone else. I enjoy my Antipodes DS GT. It has contributed to my overall enjoyment of my system. I definitely prefer to the Bryston BDP2 it replaced...the soundstage has changed,  with the lead singer appearing in front of the speakers,  creating a deeper soundstage. 

@psickerson, I am curious how you store music?  I tried Sonore Rendu (not micro-Rendu) some time ago and liked the sound - a bit different from my Berkeley USB, but not necessarily inferior.  I  am thinking of going back to that for various reasons, but must admit I am nervous about having to use a NAS for storage.  I tried a NAS with the Rendu and found it very slow to load up my library (24 hours or something crazy for 1.2 TB), and then also had some problem with my external disk drives as a result.  I am thinking of revisiting Sonore, but am still a little nervous after last time.  So I am curious how you have set up storage.
Lot's of interesting comments.  I can just share my personal experience with Aurender N100H (4TB) WITH Tidal through Nordost Blue Heaven (2 meter) USB cable into Classe Sigma SSP and the results are audibly stunning.  I have A/B'd against my EAD T-1000 transport via coax, dedicated imac mini with iTunes and Amarra via USB (both Nordost, MIT and Audioquest USB cables) as well as via Bel Canto USB to Coax converter into Classe and Wadia and finally using my old Wadia D/A with glass fiber optic.  While far from definitive and having not tried everything under the sun, I can only say that:  

From a user friendliness, the Aurender Conductor App is a dream.
Musically, I couldn't be happier.  

I believe most Aurender dealers offer a money back policy if you're not completely satisfied.  They probably couldn't afford to do this if they had very many unsatisfied customers.  The Aurender is not better in any area, it is better in all areas than all of my other combinations--bass control and extension; detailed without harshness highs; more convincing 3D soundstage; and most importantly--far more musical and natural sounding...more analogue like.  I recommend without reservation.  Good luck!

one to consider is the SGM (Sound Galleries Music) server. it’s not cheap, but not the most expensive either. and it sounds amazing with my new MSB Select II dac. it was also remarkable with the Lampi GG, Nagra HD, and Aqua Formula.

the SGM optimizes HQ Player and Roon. it’s over-the-top design allows for considerable future proofing.

as far as performance, it’s not humbled compared to my vinyl and tape. what more need be said?

The bottom line is, "we" don't know what we don't know. I'm fortunate to have access to a lot of equipment. A couple months ago I compared Absolare mono-amps to Jeff Rowland 725 mono-amps and the Bricasti amplifier. In addition, a comparion between my DS GT and Antipodes DX.  The DX is Antipodes top of the line music server,  but in my system I preferred the DS GT. Unless you can compare components, you really just don't know. That's why I started with "we" don't know what we don't know. Listening and comparing is the best way to decide what you "prefer".

+ 1 for the Rpi, I2s dac and Rune. Sounds better than my OPPO with optical interface. By all accounts, dirt cheap, Give it a try guys. Costs less than a single quality cable termination.
Tidal streams MQA, and Lumin U1 and Bluesound Node 2 deal with it. PS Audio now in MQA too with their DS and Junior. You also can change your iMac, W4S, Connect and Gungnir to the Aurender A10. (But it would not be the best decision, if you running digital room EQ software on your Mac.)
I use a 4TB Antipodes DX as my ripper/server connected via USB or SPDIF to my Esoteric K-01X ("Kay") as a DAC.  I still prefer SACD on my Kay so she gives me the flexability to spin the silver from time to time (old habits) and the Antipodes gives me the convenience of a server as well as Tidal accessiblity.  The DAC section on Kay is every bit of impressive as her transport capability.  In short, both the Esoteric and Antipodes are outstanding and they make wonderful music together.  I've heard many other combos and tried a few different DAC's but none surpassing this combo.
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Thank you all for the awesome advice.  I have a lot to chew on here and, I guess I could waste some money or not.  Maybe I'll wimp out and just upgrade my turntable...;-).  Again, thanks, PeteG.
USB and the USB interface in a computer was never intended for audio use or hi speed networking. Recognition of and elimination of Jitter was not a design consideration for USB specifications and applications, just transferring bits and bytes.

USB was basically adapted as an inexpensive way to connect multiple peripherals such as back-up drives, personal printers, software transfer or loading etc.. for personal computers. It replaced slow and often unreliable serial interfaces.   One of the engineers who helped developed USB and has amongst the best USB audio devices on the market, has now turned to Ethernet as a sonically superior interface. Accuphase, that arguably make hi resolution SACD/CD players and DACs of the highest echelon both sonically and engineering-wise, has always used an Ethernet derived HS or HS Link2 between their digital gear. Linn have always used Ethernet. I believe that I2S is a version of Ethernet used by PS Audio and others. Now Bryston is on the bandwagon I think. 

If you are going to use USB as a music storage medium for highest quality it can achieve, the best way to do this is via USB stick loaded from your PC or whatever. Load it, plug it into the front of your player and turn off the write function since all you are doing is reads. I find that you can have mixes or different genres on a stick. If you read the 1/18 HFN/RR one of the more engineering savvy writers (Keith Howard) makes this same point. Use your USB drive from your NAS or computer as a backup. You can read more about the implementation of USB here. They have all the goodies people fret over with SSDs and HDDs for music playback.


All other things being equal the best (audio) connections use Ethernet. As we found when we were developing thinwire Ethernet (there were three computer/semiconductor companies involved) the most significant determining factor is the quality of the ethernet adaptor and a properly made cable of the correct category. As the other person said, use a crossover cable to hook up your source to your "player." For purest playback, try to avoid a switch. But they are convenient, especially if you want to download DXD files for playback or streaming. Consider that if Ethernet connections are implemented properly they have no jitter of their own. You don't need to buy "magic bugs" to plug into your USB ports, etc. to remove noise or jitter.

Yes they (Ethernet and USB sticks) measure better and sound better if you have a transparent system. IMHIO.