Matrix X-SPDIF 2 Alternative - I2S vis LAN with the Mano Ultra MKII

I have a Directstream Sr and also owned the Matrix X-SPDIF2. That paired with a Farad Super 3 or Uptone LPS 1.2 did not beat out my USB chain which sounded very good:

Innuos MKII SE > ER/Farad Super 3 > A Side > ER B Side > Sablon 2020 LAN > Sonore ultraRendu/Farad Super 3> Phasure Lush 2 USB > Innuos PhoenixUSB Reclocker > Sablon 2020 USB > DS DAC

This USB chain also easily bested the Bridge II card which usually came in last in all my prior testing.
However I was intrigued by all the positive I2S feedback on these forums with this DAC (and in general) so I began searching for a solution.

Key for me is I wanted to go LAN>I2S into the Directsream while keeping my server on the B side of the ER.

In my search I found this product from Magna HiFi out of the Netherlands (Mano Ultra MKII) which is a Rasberry Pi based streamer/Roon Endpoint. Software is on a microsd card and can be swapped out to run other emulations like LMS.

Only $1100 or so delivered. No LPS required (only a std power cable). Inputs via LAN and outputs I2S LVDS (same format as PS Audio, Holo & Denafrips). Also can also add a 2nd output like SPDIF.

Sounds great and was better than my USB chain which was already very good. Improved sound stage/separation of instruments/upper level clarity. At 1/5 the cost.

YMMV but for those looking to go LAN>I2S you may want to check it out

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Looks exactly like the power supply for my DirectStream Dac external power supply for the analog board.

Great topic, @fdemello !
I have an ER / Farad Super 3 > After Dark LAN > Roon Nuc+ > SonicArt USB > Matrix X-SPDIF2 > Dragon 48 HDMI > DS DAC. I don’t think using the USB output on the Roon Nuc+ was the best output, so I tried plugging the After Dark LAN into the Bridge II. I wasn’t impressed… UNTIL I was advised to pull out the USB from the chain. That made all the difference, and there was something more natural (PRAT?) about the sound that got me intrigued. My Matrix chain was extremely detailed, great sound-stage, etc., but once I used the Bridge II without the USB, my wife started singing along (is that even a test? :joy: ).
Reading more about USB, it seems fraught with noise, hence all the strategies to clean it up! I saw @fdemello 's post re the Mano Ultra II and decided to find out for myself, so I have ordered one with the SR Purple Fuse. It’ll probably take a while to arrive from the Netherlands. I’ll let it burn in, then report back.

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But the digital output is limited to 192 kHz and DSD64 (DoP). That is ridiculous for a €994.97 product.

That is the spec but how many people have a ton of DSD. Or DSD > 64?

All I can tell you is how good it sounds with a 30k flac library/Qobuz. And how much better is sounded to the Matrix (regardless of the specs)

If you have a library heavy with DSD this may not be for you

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My point is that it does not offer any flexibility. It’s very limited for a device of that price. Even if you don’t have DSD it is not that good since it only supports up to 192 kHz. If that fits in your usability window, go for it. But, if your needs change even a little bit in the future, you may be looking for another device.

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Understood but we all have heard Redbook CD’s sound better than Hi Res files.

But I have the unit and it sounds outstanding regardless of those listed specs. Unless you are an ASR aficionado the proof is in the listening and not the measurements.

Just an option for people looking to go LAN > I2S

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I wouldn’t knock Hi Res files. I just got a quad rate DSD of (Bill Evans Some Other Time), and I must say, this is as close to the reel to reel sound I heard at my friend house as I’ve ever heard! I also have the double rate DSD and SACD/CD.
CD’s the worst, sounding more thin and harsh in comparison to the other formats. But this quad rate DSD, you really have to hear it to believe it!!

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I have this one on 128DSD and its great! I want to hear it on 256 DSD to hear the difference.

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I just got the 256DSD from NativeDSD. I already got the 128DSD from Acoustic Sounds some time ago and it really is reference quality recording, only 256DSD is better! More high frequency air and even more textured density to the instruments!
And you should get (The Lost Session From The Black Forest), it’s better than (Top of The Gate).

I have these two in 256dsd.


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I also have many Bill Evans and they’re all outstanding recordings. My favorite is (Some Other Time).

So did you compare any one to CD’s or SACD’s? What do you think of the higher rates?

Another favorite is (Waltz for Debby). The Japanese single layer SACD. Incredible sounding! Beats the heck out of my SACD Hybrid!
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I’ll pass on my impressions when I’ve received my Mano and it’s burned in. It’s cheaper than my Dragon 48 HDMI, and I’m not looking to spend another $5K at this juncture. As always, the sky is the limit with HiFi and I realised that I don’t have anything that streams from Tidal >192 kHz, and my DSD files are 64. It would’ve been nice to have higher specs, but I’m going to compare the Mano with my Matrix set up, list to what I have now.

Interestingly, Hans Beekhuyzen rated the first generation Mano equal or better than the sotm 200. Mano Ultra II is apparently better again.

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Quotes from Hans Beezhuyzen’s review of the first generation Mano:

“the Mano performed at least as well as the SOTM. People that judge audio equipment using only scopes might be flabbergasted by what I’m about to say. Only people that listen will hear this.”

“to be clear, the SOTM SMS 200 was the best network audio adapter I had ever heard in my set-up 1, until now.”

You need a better CD Transport.

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It’s not about the transport….it’s about the mastering of the CD.

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In fact, both!

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So @fdemello how does your signal path look like with Mano? Did you take Innuos off of the chain too or do you run ethernet out of it to Mano since Innuos has ethernet output too?

If only this supported DSD256 at least,it looks to be nice sounding gear to consider buying.

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Maybe Something like this?

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