Upgrade Conundrum, DAC, Streamer, OR??

Lurch

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Not gonna go anywhere near Auralic, as they're all iOS based control, don't own anything Apple except a 13 Yr old iPod Nano and not gonna buy any.
Innuos dealer is only 20 miles away so will probably sort something in the week. Cocktail may not be that special but is in budget so will have a listen as have a source for a home loan.
 
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bencat

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I am much lower on the scale than John not even close to a Node . I have heard a few up market streamers or network players and I want to be clear this is using as a bridge or network only with an off board DAC only .

In many ways I have come to the same conclusion as John that as a pure bridge / network player there is small differences but not a huge difference between units . This includes some expensive units to me like Naim , Linn , dCS , and others . In all cases changing the DAC made a bigger difference and in my systems better LPSU on things like DAC/Player and server made much bigger difference .

So I have had the put downs and comments about only using a Raspberry Pi4 as my server and had the comments that it is just not good enough well now I am very sure given a good LPSU and some sensible network isolation that it is a excellent base . Yes it can be bettered but at what cost ? For real sonic advances I need to look at other links in the chain as John may well be considering now as well .
 

Psilonaught

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Not gonna go anywhere near Auralic, as they're all iOS based control, don't own anything Apple except a 13 Yr old iPod Nano and not gonna buy any.
The Lumin android app is flawless and superb with the Auralic, used this method myself for 15 months.
 
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DomT

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The differences between digital transports can be small or big depending on what a person is looking for. It’s entirely possible for two people to hear the same HiFi and value completely different things. It’s always great to hear from John as he is demanding of his kit and not afraid to spend money if it’s worth it. Sometimes the extra 10% performance is not worth it and sometimes it’s worth a big price leap. It just depends. I also think that it’s money better spent on analogue gear.
 
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Psilonaught

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The differences between digital transports can be small or big depending on what a person is looking for. It’s entirely possible for two people to hear the same HiFi and value completely different things. It’s always great to hear from John as he is demanding of his kit and not afraid to spend money if it’s worth it. Sometimes the extra 10% performance is not worth it and sometimes it’s worth a big price leap. It just depends. I also think that it’s money better spent on analogue gear.
Pretty much my thoughts exactly.

Yes you get diminishing return but if your sound continues to improve then great, that's the point. You can't expect big jumps once you start getting into big £££ territory!
 

nomore landings

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HiFi Trade?
  1. Yes
Not gonna go anywhere near Auralic, as they're all iOS based control, don't own anything Apple except a 13 Yr old iPod Nano and not gonna buy any.
Innuos dealer is only 20 miles away so will probably sort something in the week. Cocktail may not be that special but is in budget so will have a listen as have a source for a home loan.
Hi Lurch,

still waiting for delivery of the Innuos Pulse - ordered from Audiologica near you. Will do some brief a/b against the Node before deploying it elsewhere. Vs the TEAC came second until that broke down! Innuos Sense OS allegedly very good, time will tell. I had no problem with the TEAC/Lumin/Esoteric OS, but prefer BlueOS. I am taking a bit of a gamble with Innuos, but seems to have many happy owners.
 

Lurch

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John
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Must admit that if my time with Innuos & possibly Cocktail Audio over the next week or so don't produce the sort of SQ uplift I'm looking for, I may well go after the used Jade that's been on fleabay for several months. If I do go for it though, it will depend on whether David Giffen at Goldring can pull the ESCO fitted Saphire cantilever & Paratrace stylus and replace with a Boron cantilever and Ogura diamond. If he can this will then bring it back very close to proper Koetsu spec. Probably won't lift the SQ that much above my current Rosewood Signature Platinum, but it will mean I've reached a personal Everest, the owning of a Koetsu stone body.
 

Lurch

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Hi Lurch,

still waiting for delivery of the Innuos Pulse - ordered from Audiologica near you. Will do some brief a/b against the Node before deploying it elsewhere. Vs the TEAC came second until that broke down! Innuos Sense OS allegedly very good, time will tell. I had no problem with the TEAC/Lumin/Esoteric OS, but prefer BlueOS. I am taking a bit of a gamble with Innuos, but seems to have many happy owners.
Interesting, not come across it before, had to Goggle it to check what it was, guess I will have to try and wrap my ears round one. Was considering the Zen range because of the rip function but do love the sound of my Lector CDP. So I do wonder how committed I would be to actually ripping my CDs then playing them via a Zen. Have had about 200 Gb on a WD NAS for about 5 years now and probably only accessed it for around 6 hrs in that time via the Node. In which case the Pulse range makes more sense. I look forward to your views on the Pulse Vs Node, will be interesting to see if our perceptions of it match.
 

orbscure

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Hi John... as you may remember (or possibly not) I'm currently running two digital set-ups which may interest you... I have :

1. A Win11 Korus music server (PC) running the latest jRiver Media player, attached to a 4gb QNap network drive feeding upsampled to my Topping D90 DAC... I can access this set-up using my Android tablet using the jRiver app...

2. NovaFidelity N50D Streamer/Ripper with 4tb internal storage, attached to my Mutec clock via USB and feeding the same DAC Topping D90 DAC via AES... I've also got the N50D connected to the Topping D90 via I2S... I can also access this set-up with the same Android tablet...

This is all available for a visit to chez Orbscure... fish fingers and chips are also available... so you know it makes sense ;)
 

Lurch

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John
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@orbscure
Thanks for that Pete, I believe R is due to pick some bits up for you, I will attempt to tag along with their delivery so I can have an earole.
 
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orbscure

My God, its full of stars...
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Thanks for that Pete, I believe R is due to pick some bits up for you, I will attempt to tag along with their delivery so I can have an earole.

Your more than welcome John and don't forget to bring your DAC too, we can plumb that in for comparisons... :)
 
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bigfool1956

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It was quite unfortunate that our session was interrupted. I definitely preferred the NWB over the Node, but then again I preferred the NWB straight into the DAC rather than via the Mutec, which I felt gave and etched quality to the sound and also seems to remove power from the bass. I would have liked the time to have gone back to the Mutec to see if I was just being swayed by the bass power on hand without it, but sadly it wasn't to be.

The difference between the NWB and the Node is much larger without the Mutec though, and I wonder what John would have thought if he had auditioned the more expensive dacs directly from the NWB, i.e. without the Mutec in line.
 

Lurch

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Audition PT 3

The Department of MUSIC, Petworth
3-6pm Wednesday 26/10/2022

SHOP SYSTEM.
Innuos ZenITH mk3
Naim 252 + Supercap
Naim NAP300
Kudos Titan 606

I took along my BI & Pimped Node2, my BI DAC was used for all a/b comparisons

Node > BI = Chord Shawline Coax.
ZenITH > BI = Chord Epic usb.
No Mutec this time.

Went into this audition with a different mindset having seen I wasn't going to get that smack in the mouth difference I've heard when upgrading analogue.

The basis I worked on this time was:
1. Does it deliver better SQ than the Pimped Node2/SBooster/Ultra mk2 combo.
2. Is the SQ uplift on par with spending similar ££s on a cartridge Change.
3. Does it have value added features I would use, to rebalanced the cost Vs performance equation.

Both the Node and ZenITH were hardwired to the dealers network, I then spent 20 mins dialling myself into the demo room kit via the Node & BI. I'd also compiled a 10 track QoBuz playlist to keep music choices simple initially.

Let battle commence! Things were very interesting right from the start, it was evident straight away that the ZenITH was giving me even more of what I'd heard with the dCS, being tighter, sweeter and more cohesive. I would say in general terms the sound was clean and smooth with great timbre. Switching back to the Node the sound came over as a tad crude by comparison, there wasn't the same level of extension in the lf & hf or separation within a piece. Putting on the track In a state (Unkle, Never, Never Land) when the music got busy it seemed to knot together on the Node, whereas the ZenITH just relaxed and untangled the mix so you could appreciate what was happening. I spent around another 20 minutes swapping devices/tracks then gave up, switched to the ZenITH, unplugged and packed away the Node. I then spent another hour listening to allsorts of stuff whilst haggling with John (the dealer), and ended up with a great price. I didn't commit at the end of the demo even though I knew I'd buy it, and I think John did too, but I didn't want to make his life that easy.
Rang this morning and asked when he gonna deliver it, (well he's only 20 mins away) should have it with me in a few hours.

To answer how it matched my 3 decision criteria.
1. Does it deliver better SQ than the Pimped Node2/SBooster/Ultra mk2 combo. YES, cleaner, smoother, tighter, more extended & detailed.
2. Is the SQ uplift on par with spending similar ££s on a cartridge Change. YES definitely.
3. Does it have value added features I would use. YES > Ripper + Storage & Slick Roon-like App that's intuitive and a joy to use.


Now I need to sort selling the Node, Mutec (no USB out, so 24/96 cap on BI gets reinstated) and a couple of 4 month old Shawline Coax.
 

GLB

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HiFi Trade?
  1. Yes
Wow thats cool cant wait to listen , Fourlegs post was intriguing
@It Cost How Much!?! I went from a Zen Mk3 to a Zenith Mk3 and was pleased with the sound quality upgrade. I was also very pleased with the silent SSD in the Zenith. The spinning disk in the Zen did my head in with its audible noise.

Interestingly I have been reading a point of view that a Zenith Mk3 plus a PhoenixUSB plus a PhoenixNET is considered by some to be better than a Statement. So there is an upgrade route if you should wish to go down that alley.
 
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DomT

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Dom
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
Audition PT 3

The Department of MUSIC, Petworth
3-6pm Wednesday 26/10/2022

SHOP SYSTEM.
Innuos ZenITH mk3
Naim 252 + Supercap
Naim NAP300
Kudos Titan 606

I took along my BI & Pimped Node2, my BI DAC was used for all a/b comparisons

Node > BI = Chord Shawline Coax.
ZenITH > BI = Chord Epic usb.
No Mutec this time.

Went into this audition with a different mindset having seen I wasn't going to get that smack in the mouth difference I've heard when upgrading analogue.

The basis I worked on this time was:
1. Does it deliver better SQ than the Pimped Node2/SBooster/Ultra mk2 combo.
2. Is the SQ uplift on par with spending similar ££s on a cartridge Change.
3. Does it have value added features I would use, to rebalanced the cost Vs performance equation.

Both the Node and ZenITH were hardwired to the dealers network, I then spent 20 mins dialling myself into the demo room kit via the Node & BI. I'd also compiled a 10 track QoBuz playlist to keep music choices simple initially.

Let battle commence! Things were very interesting right from the start, it was evident straight away that the ZenITH was giving me even more of what I'd heard with the dCS, being tighter, sweeter and more cohesive. I would say in general terms the sound was clean and smooth with great timbre. Switching back to the Node the sound came over as a tad crude by comparison, there wasn't the same level of extension in the lf & hf or separation within a piece. Putting on the track In a state (Unkle, Never, Never Land) when the music got busy it seemed to knot together on the Node, whereas the ZenITH just relaxed and untangled the mix so you could appreciate what was happening. I spent around another 20 minutes swapping devices/tracks then gave up, switched to the ZenITH, unplugged and packed away the Node. I then spent another hour listening to allsorts of stuff whilst haggling with John (the dealer), and ended up with a great price. I didn't commit at the end of the demo even though I knew I'd buy it, and I think John did too, but I didn't want to make his life that easy.
Rang this morning and asked when he gonna deliver it, (well he's only 20 mins away) should have it with me in a few hours.

To answer how it matched my 3 decision criteria.
1. Does it deliver better SQ than the Pimped Node2/SBooster/Ultra mk2 combo. YES, cleaner, smoother, tighter, more extended & detailed.
2. Is the SQ uplift on par with spending similar ££s on a cartridge Change. YES definitely.
3. Does it have value added features I would use. YES > Ripper + Storage & Slick Roon-like App that's intuitive and a joy to use.


Now I need to sort selling the Node, Mutec (no USB out, so 24/96 cap on BI gets reinstated) and a couple of 4 month old Shawline Coax.
Really great write up. Very informative. Many thanks

Edit to say that it must have been good if you are spending Koetsu upgrade money on this instead!
 
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Lurch

Piss-taker & Gobshite Par Excelle'nce
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Sep 17, 2016
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Chichester, W Sussex
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John
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
Really great write up. Very informative. Many thanks

Edit to say that it must have been good if you are spending Koetsu upgrade money on this instead!
Yep, transferring my mindset back to upgrading analogue kit, particular arms & carts reset my expectations. As for the Jade on eBay, I decided it was too much of a faff to get it re-done by David Giffen. Also digital is a far bigger part of my listening these days, mainly due to idleness and just putting RP on to wile away the day. CD and especially vinyl tend to be reserved for when I'm in the mood to concentrate/focus.
Dealer turned up with it around 4pm, and it sounds better than it did in his dem room, very, very happy with the result.
 

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