Recommend a server to couple with DSJ


#1

Budget ~ $2000 USD

Particular need: DSP (digital room correction) integration

Other requirements: extremely simple to setup, use, and maintain; control via a MacBook Air, best possible sound quality, use of Tidal (possibly Qobuz), not a huge fan of spending $500 on Roon (or any player software).

Current suspects: Auralec G1, Euphony PTS, Innuous Zen mini Mk 3, Lumin U1 mini, Metrum Ambre, miniDSP SHD, Salk StreamPlayer Generation III

TIA


#2

OK, so I’ll update my own inquiry.

Am closing in on an Auralic Aries G1:

1.) Comes from a good company, for servers a relatively old/stable company;
2.) Has all outputs except I2S, which isn’t a standard anyway;
3.) Very well designed/built;
4.) Hans Beekhuyzen really likes it;
5.) Is a one box solution (server/streamer with internal storage) and designed to run wirelessly;
6.) Has a good operating system (no need to spend $500 on Roon).

Still have more homework to do. The biggest issue is the lack of U.S. dealers (most are mail order) and I’ll need support for setup/maintenance.


#3

Alternative suggestion: get the G1, and Roon (or not), and use the server functions of your router to supply the files.
My ASUS has both SMB server support for the Aries, and DLNA support for other SW such as Roon, and works great with the Aries. I plug in a USB3 thumbdrive, and performance is more than adequate.


#4

Thanks for the advice, although don’t know what SMB, DLNA are… Like your suggestion of using a USB thumb drive, which one would you recommend (need at least 256 GB). Is USB 3.0 needed?

I’m dropping my requirement for DSP, although the soon to be released $1500 NAD C658 (described as a BlueSound Node 2/i on steroids) has Dirac built in.

Unfortunately in the mean time I got a very dissuading email reply from Wang Xuanqian, Auralic President/CEO, who said it wouldn’t operate from my MacBook, doesn’t have internal music storage (had thought it did from my readings), does not output via ethernet, doesn’t have I2S, and didn’t really address external storage options.

Have you found the G1 to be stable? With no brick and mortar U.S. dealers (can’t believe that), what level of support could I expect? I’m a ‘certified’ computer dummy, so need lots of hand holding to setup and maintain.


#5

I run both a DSD and DSD Jr from a QNAP TVS-471 with (sorry) Roon. It really is a fantastic setup, FWIW. Room correction is a feature of Roon. Of course, you could forgo Roon and just use the included media server, or the plex app, and I imagine there are other possibilities I have not explored because, well, I love Roon.


#6

I would recommend a roon ecosystem with this as your server

https://www.smallgreencomputer.com/collections/audio-server/products/sonictransporter-i7-for-roon-dsp?variant=35324041615

You can attach an external USB drive for your music files or option an internal drive (recommend ssd for its silent noise free operation). It has an Ethernet bridge built in so you just attach one Ethernet cable to your internet router or switch, and the other to the dsj and because it is bridged, your dsj will be insulated from the noise on your main router/network. This option will allow you to use the built in bridge2 input of the dsj, and will allow the full mqa capabilities. Plus roon is the most stable hassle free ecosystem I have used. If you enjoy music then roon will definitely be worth the $500 lifetime subscription. Also if you like tidal streaming you will love the way roon integrates it seemlessly into your music library. Oh plus SGC has life time support for the less technically minded audiophile.

Bonus is it has the horsepower to run all the DSP functionality built in to roon.


#7

Good advice xrford, but…

that’s almost exactly the server/software I tried and it didn’t sound appreciably better than my MacBook Air/iTunes/10ft USB cable (I had their Small Green Computer i5 server with an unmanaged ethernet switch instead of the i7). Andrew helped me to set it up and got the files transferred. He knew my primary objective was for a sonic upgrade, yet when I complained about no sound quality improvements he pointed me to his additional 4 box, 2 cable, $1400 solution. That was not the final solution I had in mind, so I returned the i5.

Markdkelly…

I’m a ‘certified’ computer dummy, what is “QNAP TVS-471”? Looked at Roon room correction but consider it useless without being able to measure the room/speakers and adjust to their response. Did read that a “filter” from Room EQ Wizard could be added, but that sounded unduly complex. A nearby friend convinced me that with my Fibonacci shaped room, 10 GIK absorption panels, mid-field setup, and controlled directivity speakers (with PEQ adjustments) that my need for DSP is minimal. It seems we’re at the very early, bleeding edge development stage of this technology where complexity and cost are bound to come down.


#8

IMHO, Roon + DSjr is the simplest setup.

Optionally, you can buy a $75 UMIK-1 that works with REW and look at the tutorials on how to create your own custom convolution filter that can be read by Roon. However, I agree with your friend that if you can solve most of your room issues via speaker placement and simple room tweaks that are wife-friendly, that is the way to go.

The simplest setup is to run Roon Core on your MacBook Air with your music library also on the MBA - either on the local SSD or on a usb drive. Roon will stream directly from your MBA to your DSjr.

The next step up, if your music library is large and/or you want to protect it, is to get your music library on a NAS (network attached storage). NAS devices come in all sizes and price points, and they all speak the same industry standard protocols. You could have a low-cost NAS device that simply serves up the music files to the Roon Core running on your MBA (this is what I do), or you could look at a beefier NAS device like markdkelly recommends that would run both the Roon Core and host your music library: https://kb.roonlabs.com/Roon_Server_on_NAS

Bottom like is you will have to dig in a learn something. Yes, you could buy an all-in-one box from a boutique company that will be out-of-business or obsolete in a few years, and spend your time learning and troubleshooting their solution. Or you could spend some time learning how to integrate a couple of software-based upgradeable solutions that will take advantage of the streaming capabilities of your DSjr.


#9

pbphoto,

Yep, did that (i5 Small Green Computer with 1 TB SSD and Roon trial via ethernet) but sound quality was no better than from my MBA/iTunes/10ft USB cable and in my dedicated room don’t really mind the cable. I could buy/learn REW (or Dirac Live) and run it off the MBA. Roon was nice, but not worth $500 IMO. Library only 153 GB (~500 ALAC ripped CDs), so no need for a NAS.

Have bought many audio components over the past 50 years, several cars over the past 40 years and a few computers over the past 30 years, but didn’t have to learn how they work (beyond basic maintenance), why should I have to learn music servers? And do you mind sharing some of those software based solutions you mentioned or do I have to join a club and learn a secret handshake?


#10

Good luck with your decision Jim.


#11

You do not need to “learn music servers” if you would prefer not to. There are excellent turn-key options such as Bryston’s offerings. However, these do not meet your requirement of less than $2,000, especially when you also require DSP.

For my experience it is impossible to achieve everything you want without diving in and learning something (your stated requirements: extremely simple, best possible sound, DSP - all for $2,000.) There are many here to help you if you are willing to do some work.

It is frustrating that even after 40 years of consumer computers they remain as complicated as they do. Only truly closed limited purpose computers are easy to use - such as your car and its many computers.


#12

As stated above have dropped my requirement for DSP on the server (so stupid it’s so hard to do). Many in the field make it hard to understand computers: use of abbreviations; use of varying terms for apparently the same thing; and dropping of only bread crumbs (hints or partial explanations). Many examples of all this in this thread.


#13

No one is making a deliberately hard for you to understand. It is a complicated subject and what you think of as unnecessary jargon is actually appropriate nomenclature. Just consider how hard it is for a non-audiophile to follow a conversation referencing DSD, Redbook, 96/24, DSP, DACs, FLAC v. WAV, etc. They feel as if they need a playbook.

If you demonstrate a willingness to learn and ask honest questions you will receive all the assistance you need.


#14

@jlm. The reason I suggested the sonic transport i7 was specifically for the built in network bridge that the i5 does not have. Put a good linear psu on it and I think it will pay dividends. Now you can ask SGC what they think, but I have heard over at the roon forum, that it does make a difference.

Because no one really knows what causes a DAC to sound “better” my approach is always optimize the chain of electronics feeding the DAC and keep it simple and leave your self options for newer better DACs in the future. I think the roon ecosystem does this.

Now as to why you did not hear a difference with the i5 setup, well did you consider that your downstream devices preamp,amp, speakers may be adding noise so the upstream improvements may have been muddied by your down stream devices? It may be better to spend your upgrade money on the downstream devices. One way that may help you determine this is to listen for improvements between red cloud and snowmass. Did you hear a noticeable improvement? If your downstream devices are resolving enough, then you should have.

The game of improving a DAC’s sound is to make sure everything is optimized and the device chain before the dac is short and simple. If everything is optimized and you still don’t hear an improvement, then look at improving the downstream devices or get a new “better” Dac. Adding more devices upstream to fix perceived short comings is a fools game that only benefits the audio dealers who peddle in snake oil products. Good luck in your quest for better sound


#15

Have a look at the Auralic Aries G1. It’s right in your price range, and is a turnkey solution with DSP and outstanding sound. It works with Roon, Tidal, Qobuz, and Spotify.


#16

Thanks for the advice, but frankly in 50 years haven’t heard any significant improvement when trying to add power conditioners/etc. and my system is wired for nearly perfect power: rural substation with no old/heavy industry; our house has our own transformer; built 15 years ago with all 20 amp/12 gauge wiring; audio system has 3 cryo’d hospital grade 20 amp duplex receptacles each wired to a dedicated 20 amp/12 gauge circuit and all three wired to an independent ground. All done as a “while we were at it” premise.

Room is shaped based on Fibonacci ratios (8ft x 13ft x 21ft); well insulated; mid-field setup; (10) GIK 244 2ft x 4ft absorption panels; (3) tall bookcases to act as informal diffusors. Speakers are JBL 708P active reference studio monitors supplemented by (3) subs for dispersed bass. The 708P monitors ($4000/pair MSRP) use controlled directivity waveguide compression tweeter and 8 inch ported woofer with 12 bands of PEQ available. They are fed directly by the DSJ. So I seriously doubt the speakers are a weak link.

I’ve not tried Snowmass as have been holding off to the DSJ related glitches to be resolved first.

Yes I looked at the SGC i7, but Andrew told me that use of the unmanaged ethernet switch with the i5 would provide nearly the same result. With the switch a 3ft ethernet cable runs from the i5 to the switch, a 6ft ethernet cable runs to the HomePage device, and a second 3ft ethernet cable runs from the switch to the DSJ, so signal between i5 and DSJ avoids going back and forth to the router.

I’ve found with servers that if you search long enough you can find opinions in both directions on almost any issue. And it was Andrew who initially told me that the i5 would provide better sound quality (SQ), then when I didn’t find it to be the case, said that adding another 4 boxes, 2 cables, $1400, and conversion from ethernet to USB to I2S would give better SQ. A $2800, 5 box, 2 cable, 2 conversion solution was not what I had in mind. And BTW he never suggested a power supply for the server.


#17

Already looked at the Auralic Aries G1 (even though it’s above my price range when recommended self powered external drive and required iPad are added). Auralic seems to offer good customer service, relatively experienced/well resourced (R&D and manufacturing) in the high-end music server business. And the Lightning DS seems like a well featured OS. But their forum shows lots of stability concerns for the OS and Auralic has no U.S. bricks and mortar dealerships. Being a ‘certified’ computer dummy I consider a hand holding level of service to setup/maintain the server as essential.

Note that a recent email response from Wang (President and CEO of Auralic) recommended against me buying the G1.


#18

What did Wang say specifically and in what context?


#19

I wrote on December 21st:

Am interested in purchasing, but have ?'s:

1.) Can all of Lightning DS features be used on my MacBook Air?

2.) Does it have any internal music storage (some sites say no, some seem to say 2TB HHD)?

3.) Can G1 output via ethernet to my PS Audio DirectStream Junior DAC/preamp?

4.) Have read it works best with self powered HHD, would a SSD powered from USB work?

5.) If SSD works, what 1 TB model would you recommend?

6.) Could you provide a link to the owner’s manual?

7.) Am a certified computer dummy, how stable is the G1/Lightning DS? (Browsing the Auralic forum doesn’t instill a great deal of confidence.)

8.) How much hand holding can I honestly expect from you for setup/maintenance?

BTW, an email (to) the only apparent non-internet only U.S. dealer (in NJ) bounced back. A huge negative in my book.

TIA

On December 22nd, Wang Xuanqian answered:

As I read your questions and found out all No for the first 5, I think ARIES G1 is not the product for you.

Best regards

Wang Xuanqian | 王轩骞


#20

Thanks! This helps us understand.