Best streamer for DirectStream with Matrix

Hi, I haven’t been writing in this forum before. Although I have had a DirectStream for many years (I upgraded to DirectStream from the old version when the DirectStream was launched). I have now decided to upgrade parts of my system, mainly the steaming part (the DAC I will definitely keep J). So far I have been using a NUC sized PC as a streamer.

After reading a lot of positive comments in this forum I bought the Matrix X-SPDIF 2 (but I could find a Wireworld platinum cable, which many recommended, so I had to settle for an old Wireworld Silver Starlight 5.2 which also sounds great). The Matrix made a huge improvement in SQ, and I haven’t used an externa PSU with it yet! I also have a JCAT USB Isolator in front of the Matrix which makes the sound a little bit calmer and gives a more quiet background, which makes the music even more enjoyable to listen to.

I have also grew very fond of Roon (I have compared Roon with Audirvana and there is absolutely no deferens in SQ in my system, none). So, as I think the user interface in Roon is very good (but it comes at a price J) I will keep Roon as long as the SQ doesn’t suffer to much compared to other solutions.

Next step will be to upgrade my streamer. The streamers I have been looking at are: Pro-ject Stream Box S2 Ultra, Volumio Primo, SOtM sMS-200 Ultra Neo, Lumin U1 mini and Lumin U1.

As you can see there is a huge spread, and the reason for this is the following question: Does it really matter which streamer I use, or is the SQ more or less already set and defined by the Matrix.

As a lot of people in this forum have been using the Matrix with the DirectStream I would be very interested in hearing your thoughts and opinions about the choice of streamer in this set up, does it makes a difference in SQ. This might already have been discussed in this forum but I can’t find it.

If you can afford the Lumin it’s a fine choice. I like the UltraRendu Signature Rendu streamers from Small Green Computer. I have also been impressed with the Auralic Aries G1 and G2.

My thought is for the money you can’t go wrong with a UltraRendu or better still and OpticalRendu. Less than $1k US, lots of options.

Also, a Inakustik Excellenz USB cable can be a nice step up from your WW Silver. It not expensive either. Small Green Computer sells that as well.

What are you using for a server?

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Thanks for the suggestion of other streamers, I will absolutely look at these as well. I am using a PC with i7 processor as a Roon server, so the streamer would only be the Roon end point. The WW silver cable is the HDMI cable between the Matrix and the DirectStream (I use the JCAT USB cables which are very good). However, my question is real how much difference to SQ does the stream do when I have the Matrix which re-clocks the USB signal to I2S?

I’d also be interested in an explicit comparison of streaming options Bridge II incl. galvanic isolation and emi treatment vs. various streamers using Matrix. The relation of differences e.g. compared to firmware or other sq differences like transformer upgrade etc. would be helpful. Also where psu upgrades are really worth the money related to the magnitude of improvement. We probably never get that.

I will later this year have a chance again to compare Bridge with a non matrix’ed G2 and get my own impression.

My guess from various posts here is, that pure streamer differences are quite small in comparison to other things.

My other guess is, that the best cost/performance ratio may be achieved with a good lower end streamer like the Lumin mini with Matrix and a multi voltage psu like the HDPlex 300 used for Matrix, streamer and DS analog board.

Just my theoretical analysis so far. Might also be that all the hassle just gives a relatively small improvement towards a tweaked out Bridge.

I tend to agree with @jazznut, high quality streaming should not be particularly expensive live, my main system is Roon Ready, but for my second system I was looking at either the Stream Box S2 Ultra or the Lindeman Limetree Network.

Just add an ifi or SBooster 5v power supply, depending how much you plan to spend.

Auralic and Innuos are often referred to here. I’ve used the older Auralic models, but the newer ones are reported to have a superb usb output.

I use Innuos Zen and both Zen and Zenith have a dedicated linear power supply powering the usb output.

Some users of the DSD DAC, including Darko, have considered it is just as good with a quality usb source as with I2S.

I tried the SoTM-100 when it was driven by its own, poor, app. I have only read good things about the 200 as a Roon endpoint, just showing how many good options there are for not a lot of money. Maybe I should look at it myself.

I was using a Mac Mini dedicated as a Roon core/server and upgraded to a used Roon Nucleus I picked up for $500 and it was $500 well spent! Much better sound from the nucleus/matrix combo then the former Mac mini/matrix combo. I’ve also looked into Innuos Zen and Zenith.

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Sadly the USB cable makes a significant difference even though the Matrix reclocks the signal. I heard a significant change between the Wireworld Silver and Platinum. The Inakustik I mentioned to you is a step up from the Platinum. I didn’t stop there and bought even better but much more expensive USB cables. The Inakustik is a nice way to avoid doing the same.

Nucleus+ is a recommended component in Stereophile, reviewed by John Atkinson.

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I use a Lumin U1 Mini and a HDPlex 300 (connected by a Audio Sensibility DC cable). It is a good combo but I do not have a Matrix/DS pair in my setup. I am also using an EtherRegen to feed the Lumin but frankly to my ears it did not sound any different than connected directly to a Netgear switch.
Oh and like the OP I have a fanless NUC for a Roon core which is also powered by the HDPlex.

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I know Stereophile speaks highly of the sound and functionality for the Nucleus + and I was considering it until I actually saw one. It’s half the size and weight of an Sbooster power supply. If it were $599 then sure. But $2500? Not me. I want a manly device that gets hot and has sharp edges.

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I felt the same way Al. A lot of people told me it wouldn’t sound better than my Mac Mini. I found a regular Nucleus for $500 and said it was worth it for the price. After I tried it out I could justify the higher price. It’s much better than the Mac Mini. The dealer I bought it from has their display model if you are interested I will include the link. Demo Nucleus+ $1995

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I am running a Euphony PTS server at the moment. If I was going to look at a new server it would probably be the Euphony Summus. I am just using the server to host Roon and my music collection. I am not convinced that the server has a huge impact on the sound I hear. I know it could have a negative effect. I believe the streamer has more to do with the finished sound. Obviously both are important but in a two machine setup I think the server is less important.

I am also considering a Pink Faun.

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This has been my experience also, especially when the server is well away from the main system and isolated via optical.

All sorts of clocking is a pretty big deal, depending on the quality and resolution of the parts in question. However, my unscientific estimation of how big a part in the equation the Matrix plays amongst Streamer, DAC and Matrix - I’d say the streamer and the DAC are each FAR more important. They’re essential, whereas you don’t NEED a Matrix.

You NEED the other two, and how good they are is the primary determinant of SQ, with or without a Matrix. Matrix allows for incremental improvements, as with cables. And USB and the Matrix are very responsive to cables, power supplies, clocking…etc. And so - a tweaker’s paradise. Which is the definition of a Nightmare for others. The Matrix allows for not insignificant improvements - but still, not on the scale of the other two.

As I’ve mentioned recently, upgrading the power supply board in my streamer for $500 was easily a more profound, all-around improvement in SQ than the $2k+ tweak-chain of boxes and cables that is my particular Matrix ecosystem. A caveat I would add to that is - I’m quite sure the change brought by the streamer power supply upgrade would have been less audible without the Matrix…:man_shrugging:t2:

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Not sure if it is covered before (most probably it is). But to save me time going through 1000s of message across multiple topics, could you or anyone else let me know the SQ difference between optical to DS and USB->Matrix->DS. Is there any/significant SQ difference between the two?

Lumin U1 Mini for $2000.

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I have never run optical to my DSD and if it were better than the Matrix this thread would have ended seven million posts earlier I believe.

I run fiber optic cable to my streamer and I believe in doing that…

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After trying Lumin, Auralic, Innuos, Bridge II I found nothing comes close to a Sonore Signature Rendu SE Optical in my system, connected to the DSD via a Matrix of course. I’m not sure how much of the goodness is due to the fiber optic ethernet connection but I suspect it’s a lot.

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I recently moved from the Bridge II to a Sonore Signature Rendu Optical. So utterly impressed, it was as if the front wall of my soundstage move 10 feet back with the expansion of scale and presention… I am feeding my DS over I2S using the Sonore UltraDigital USB → I2S converter. I have used this new streaming rig in both DNLA via MConnect and as a Roon Endpoint, which, not surprisingly is a far more stable and enjoyable interface… I am using Finisar SFP+ modules (FTLX1475D3BTL) and OS2 single-mode cable between an Uptone EtherRegen and the Sonore w/o no issues. I was also looking the the U1 and Aries G2.1 but favored the SFP input, simple form factory and of course a US producer never hurts. The investment in the iOS control app for Lumin and Aries units didn’t matter to me as I planned to use Roon; YMMV . I had some questions about the Rendu series and I wrote to Andrew at Smallgreencomputer asking for some help selecting the right product; he called me directly to assist; very appreciative of the response… All in all, very happy with my new streamer!

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Good move going single-mode and using Finisars - once I did that (from the multimode TP-Link modules Sonore recommend) the uptick in SQ was very noticeable.