I have done a lot of searches and read a lot of threads here the past few weeks. Too much time inside in midwest winter.
Fairly new DS Sr owner.
Added a Bridge II as an initial step for a streaming unit.
Simple setup. Windows PC>Router>Cat 6 run to wall ethernet jack>Bridge II input of DS.
I use Jriver and like that overall.
Using decent Cat 8 cable suggested here from wall ethernet jack to the Bridge II input.
It sounds very good. They say ignorance is bliss, but with Covid and winter I read too much stuff here.
Tried a etherRegen with a very good Pardo LPS. Did not experience any significant uptick in SQ really in my situation at least.
Question- Is there any general consensus about a Bridge II alternative upgrade for network streaming? Prefer a one box unit, or simple solution. Have to admit the streamline solution of the Bridge II is hard to argue with. Not getting any ticks or pops in playing DSD files in Jriver. It is a little buggy in song transitions.
Budget used is modest. Prefer under $1500. Actually south of $1000 even better.
Of note- I am trying a Matrix also with a path of Windows laptop>USB>Matrix> i2S input.
Matrix does sound slightly better in some ways than the Bridge II. Maybe a little more wet, weighty, or analog. Playing around with none or different power supplies on that.
Thanks for any input. Enjoying the forum community here. Listening to more music than ever which is what this is all about in the end.
Try to safely remove Bridge II from the DAC, and check the sound using Matrix through I2S. I am part of a group who believe the DS DAC sounds best sans Bridge II. I put Bridge away in its box for a rainy day as I do not see me replacing my DS DAC in the foreseen future…
Try it to see if it is worth its salt. If not then you could consider other alternatives. In my case, I added Nucleus+ which doubles up as a streamer, sever, and player. It is sits peacefully in the rack and feeds the DS via Matrix. I added 2TB SSD to it to make sure no HDD noise is near the gear. Of course the penalty was a lifetime Roon subscription, but I am in love with this setup. John Atkinson uses a Nucleus+ too. I checked other comparable solutions and the cost is out of budget.
Interesting. I will do some research on that. I don’t understand the whole Roon thing.
I guess with a unit like that one can pull the Bridge II card. I do see many here who feel it makes a positive difference not being installed. Others say it is a non issue.
So much of this is system dependent.
I know this topic has been discussed in different threads, in part, or about a specific “XXXX unit vs Bridge II” thread, but was wondering if there was any thought that a few particular units consistently made a meaningful upgrade in SQ for most people.
The ones that are mentioned often are:
**** Lumin products***
**** Sonore products***
**** Auralic Products***
** Aurender products*
**** Some ethernet isolator products i.e. (Uptone etherRegen) and leaving the Bridge II in***
I am sure I am missing others as this is pretty new to me.
I like trying out different gear like a lot of folks here and I fully realize that some gear works for some in their systems and some not so much for others.
I guess I am looking to try some options (buying used) that could make a difference, but not break the bank.
I invested a fair amount of $ (for me) in locating a used PSA DS Sr. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to spend equal to that for a 5% increase over the Bridge II in SQ for a network streaming add on unit.
I guess I am a little crazy like all of us in this hobby, but am trying to be reasonable.
And, it needs to be gear that one can resell in used market if it doesn’t work out.
I learned that a long time ago buying and selling higher end guitars.
I bought a secondhand DSD that shipped with a BII. For me, the Bridge didn’t compare well to using the USB input with an ultraRendu. So it was out with the Bridge. I also like that the DSD seems to run a lot cooler without the Bridge.
With all the buzz about the Matrix, I eventually decided to try the i2s input with an ultraDigital (Sonore’s answer to the Matrix?). To my ear and to my surprise, it was a big step backward. After swapping it in and out of my system for a couple of weeks, I sent it back without hesitation.
That is my experience so far, though I seem to read lots of love for the Matrix and i2s input.
When I decided to switch from Mac Mini > USB > DAC to ethernet > DAC in 2013 I was in a similar situation to you. I did a lot of research looking for boxes that just converted ethernet to SPDIF to feed the DAC. I found there were not many options available at that time that did not involve streamer products bundling other components (DAC, Hard-disc storage etc) with the ethernet-to-SPDIF renderer I was looking for. The original Sonore Rendu ethernet-to-SPDIF was the best cost/Sound Quality compromise I found. You may find one of these on eBay within your budget.
I continued to use the Sonore Rendu when I upgraded from my Bel Canto DAC to the PS Audio Snr. I later bought the Bridge 2 but retained this for use in a second system. A couple of years later, reading reviews of the dCS Network Bridge this looked to me the ideal next step up for SQ and so I bought one. I was not disappointed and furthermore removing the bridge board from the PSA DAC gave the bonus of improved SQ from all the other inputs on the DAC. This is beyond your budget; you might find one on eBay but they don’t seem to change hands often.
Looking at what’s available now within your budget you could investigate the Cambridge Audio CXN (V2) which has a very good DAC as well as ethernet-to-SPDIF conversion - it has had excellent reviews, or the Cyrus Stream X (if it is still available). There is also a very new product from Sonore, the EndPoint, which might be worth investigating.
I’d add that in my experience physically separating all the other server/streamer functions from the DAC has the potential to be the most cost-effective way of increasing SQ.
I am looking at the Sonore products, specifically the ultraRendu or maybe even the opticalrendu if I can figure out what it all requires to implement.
Seem to be fairly reasonable pricepoints used for gear.
Its a little unclear if it works with Jriver, but there are posts that it does.
I did an interesting experiment last night.
I had been using my OPP0 105 as a network bridge to the PSA DS Sr successfully sending any music data via COAX before I got the Bridge II. I had kind of made the assumption that the Bridge II would be better as it removed one data hop.
I decided to compare the two each straight from the ethernet wall jack.
Same known music. Same cat 8 ethernet cable.
Both sounded very good. No difference even when listening for very quiet detailed nuances I was looking for (subtle high hat reverb in background on the Kenny Burrell song The Mule in DSD).
I found that the Auralic Aries G2 was a large step up in performance compared to the bridge. It’s a pretty expensive upgrade but I’m not sure what they go for on the used market. There is also an older generation G1, which I would assume also performs better than the bridge. Like the others, I found that performance was slightly increased by removing the Bridge. I’m not sure technically why that happened but it was noticeable.
I have a Aurender A10 on order. It is reported to have superior sound quality. I used Bridge ii with a DSJ I used to own. I wasn’t a big fan of Bridge ii. I thought USB connected devices like microrendu were superior.
According to the reviewers who have had both the G1 and G2 in their systems the G1 gets you well over 90% of the G2 with the biggest differences being the upgraded casework, feet and the proprietary connection system that is only used between other 2 level products. The gap is supposed to get slightly wider with the release of the G2.1 last fall. I have owned the G1 for about a year and a half and it is a significant upgrade over the Bridge as is the older Aries Femto which can be found in your price range. Both of the Aries G series streamers are still holding about 75% or more of their retail value.