Sonore SE + ER vs Airlens

Hi, Like many of you, I spent $5K to get the Sonore SE with all bells and whistles (upgrades) and ER network switch.

Now we have AL from PS audio for $2K.

Has anyone done side-by-side with Sonore?
I searched in the forum and could not find any post in this.

Also trading in SE is not going to work well since most will go towards AL. How did you manage to deal with your SE?

@aangen @straightwire @dchang05 @luca.pelliccioli @weedeewop @vkennedy61 - invoking the regulars because I remember most of you either have Sonore or have tried Sonore in the past.

Sorry, can’t help you. I have no experience with that stuff. My network is built around Innuos (Statement server/streamer and PhoenixNET switch) where Ethernet is wired (no fiber) and USB is the preferred output.

I don’t have experience with it either. :man_shrugging:

I had a Sonore Signature SE. I loved the optical isolation of the streamer. I ended up going to optical input on my Melco S100 with Plixr LPS and then using the optical output to the Sonore. Then I was able to test other streamers using new network switch feeding both Sonore an others. I compared to Stack Link II and Red. They all seemed to perform similar in that setup using the optical into the switch.

EDIT: The other thing here in my system is the MKII I use as DAC. I have found that the USB and I2S inputs isolation has also boosted the quality of what you can call the “lesser” quality streamers. So in my setup I fell that the network optical isolation to a high quality switch with a high quality LPS combined with the MKII galvanic isolation on inputs makes it harder to tell the difference between these streamers. I think Sonore had something special years ago, and others are catching up as well. When I first put that in my system I was like wow this is great. Then as we all do, what can I do better. I started to research and tweak things on network side and looked at other manufactures as they started to do better quality streamers at lower prices. The SE is still a good streamer, but like so many other things in technology, others have caught up and no way would I pay $5k for it new.

Sorry, I have no experience with either unit.

I was looking at Sonore last week, even placed an order that lasted less than 24 hours.

It started with a 200 Neo, that needed a power supply (box 2), then a usb reclocker (box 3, sharing power from box 2), then a mega-switch (box 4) and another power supply (box 5). Even with a 30% discount it came out at the same price as an Innuos Pulsar, that does everything in one box, with three power supplies, a premium reclocker and the InnuOs operating system and Sense app, that I prefer to Roon. At full retail, Sonore is a lot more expensive and really a Roon device. I have Roon lifetime, but don’t want to use it in my main system.

Jason Kennedy, editor of The Ear, has reviewed both (a 3-box Sonore system, without the mega-switch), so I asked him. He said:

I was also looking at AirLens, but there is a weird thing in the manual about sound quality being dependent on using a high-quality (presumably expensive) and very short cable. Paul kindly responded on that point, but it concerns me, plus the cable may have to be 2 to 3 times longer than advised. If the manual is correct, a cheap long cable will impact sound quality.

Paul is in the I2S camp and I’m in the usb camp. He has a prejudicial loathing of usb for obvious and understandable reasons, but plenty of manufacturers have achieved superb results with usb, many preferring it as their Mk2 DAC input.

So a Pulsar will be here tomorrow (it went from England to Scotland yesterday, now back to England). If it’s not great I can always return it, I’m hoping that won’t happen. My Lumin is also being collected tomorrow.

The big deal is that there are no PS Audio dealers here who will do a remotely sensible trade-in. My Lumin has been listed for sale for a few weeks without a single enquiry. I would rather use the Lumin as a streamer than it sit here in a box. Sonore and Innuos are both distributed by the same big dealer and they do great trade-ins.

The distributor told me that the Sonore switch, which costs almost as much as the streamer and reclocker combined, makes a big difference to Sonore. That may be sales talk, but it makes you think why you have to have 5 boxes to do one job. And what is Sonore, when you can use the 200 Neo on its own with the supplied wall wart power unit, or spend 4 times as much on a load of boxes to optimise it.

The distributor told me they had tried to get Sonore to simplify the product with more in one box, but it hasn’t happened.

Is the Pulsar Roon ready? I think next year I will be ready to jump to a higher quality streamer. Its on the list. I like the G2.2, but the website has dropped any mention of Dirac that was posted from on the press releases. I hope they will support it. Rose 130 as well on the list.

Pulsar is Roon Ready. You can’t run Roon Core on it, like the Zen range.

I looked at Auralic G2.2, having used it in the past. It is probably best as a streamer/DAC combo, they have an L-Link that may be I2S (who knows?) and they include the cable. You have to stack them to use the short cable (hence why I assume it is I2S), but they are the same format and style so people would do that anyway.

The G2.2 does look fantastic, with a huge power supply section, galvanic isolation everywhere, copper sheet isolation everywhere, lots of outputs and a price tag to match.

The Pulsar really is a dedicated usb device, with the new mini PhoenixUSB reclocker that @luca.pelliccioli has in a separate box.

The UK Sales Manager of Innuos, a very helpful guy called Stephen Nealy, tells me that a significant InnuOs system upgrade in a few weeks will allow for attachment of a usb drive. He says this is mainly for when someone comes along with a usb stick to play some music, not a permanent solution. Their view is that using usb power to retrieve music from a drive is a very bad idea, given they have made so much effort on the purity of their usb output. Far better to put the music on the network or cloud. I will try it, all the same, to see the difference between:
(1) External usb drive
(2) External usb attached to a QNAP network server
(3) Using Innuos Zen Mk3 as a server in their Endpoint mode, which is meant to be best.

Basically, Innuos want you to use a pure streamer (made by them) and an optimised server (made by them). This makes sense, unless you have the skills to optimise your own server.

Thanks Steve. Looks like a winner. Looking forward to your reports on your journey.

My apologies, I was confusing SoTM and Sonore. I looked at Sonore as well, same multiple box issue.

Sonore is sold in the UK, much the same price points, no chance of a trade-in. The one-box Signature Optical Rendu SE has got criticism because it is basically a $1,000 Optical Rendu with an upgraded power supply, coming to $5,000, the same price as the Pulsar, the latter having a far superior usb implementation and its own seriously good software, whereas Sonore looks like you need an IT qualification to get it to work using Linux or whatever.

Plus the UK warranty for Sonore is 12 months RTB in the USA, whereas in the UK/EU you get 2 years and Innuos are easily serviced locally.

There was a period when Sonore was not being sold here, it has the smell of being a very techie product, and streaming really should be plug-login-play.

Sonore focuses on fibre and the “Systemoptique Certified”, which translates to “complete B.S.”, I use fibre and all you need is a cheap converter and a low noise 9v power supply from iFi, SoTM or whoever.

FWIW (just setting the record straight from my perspective), I have used a Sonore Signature Rendu SE for sometime now (around a year and a half). I can’t imagine an easier device, in the streaming world, to use. Nothing much to implement and it just works to near perfection. It has a very sophisticated USB implementation (recently updated with their OS 2.9) and you can feed it with fiber or category network cable (requires an appropriate SFP). I use 75’ of OM1 fiber.

I used a bridge i and a bridge ii for years. Have not tried the Airlens (and am not going to). The signature rendu is way better than either bridge.

I use the rendu with JRiver (DLNA) and Roon. Easy to switch back and forth. Both pieces of software ALWAYS find the Rendu.

edit: another point, systemOptique is just a marketing term to say, “if you use these products, the network will work as advertised.” If you use something other than these products, it might work but they don’t guarantee it. There’s a whole cottage industry in unique SFPs, single mode fiber, OM3 v OM1 (OM1 multimode is recommended). Nothing nefarious or misleading in my opinion.

can you elaborate on this? I never had 2.9. I waited and waited, but moved on.

Not sure what you waited on, I thought 2.8 worked just fine; however, below is a link that describes the changes better than I can.

It has been a few years since I had the SE. I was very impressed with it at the time.

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My wait was for the MKII. the DSD had very loud pops and tics. Mr Kennedy here talked with them and they said upgrade was coming. That was quite some time ago. I also had some sync issues with DACs on power interuptions. Boot seq. had to spot on for it to see the DAC. otherwise I had to reboot it a few times to lock in .

I waited for in software time, ages ago. I moved on. As far as improvements in 2.9 I do not see much there. Looks like bug fixes. My guess is it works better with MKII #1 on the list and the USB improvements is for starting up streaming. I never had that issue. I was looking for something like other streamers are doing with USB outputs. Guess software cannot do that anyway.

Its a great device but its lost is specialness and is way over priced in this new market. They had a great idea and it worked very very well for its time. But like most things in tech, got old and they have not done much (like do a new hardware USB upgrade or add I2S etc…). I would have to agree with Mr Segal on this one, its fallen behind and its old price does not meet what the new guys offer in that range.

Not to pick on PSA, but at least it has a web control front end.

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I sold my Rendu SE when I bought into dCS.

There is a lot of mis-information on this thread…please allow me some comments for your consideration.

The products in Rendu series have all undergone hardware revisions. The latest hardware revision being the opticalRendu (coming soon) and the ultraRendu (already released). We are constantly looking at the parts and in search of lower noise and better spec ICs. We also test the circuits in house for comparative analysis to qualify our approach. To say that we have not changed things and kept up and/or lead in that perspective is improper IMHO.

The cost of the gear is reflective of our process and we have kept things as low as possible. Understand that we are primarily based in the US for hardware design, software design, and manufacturing, we source our components from only the best vendors and the cost has to reflect that decision for excellence. We utilize a very good SOM with a flexible and upgradable Linux operating system that we actively participate in and manage for you.

We are not using a $12 board from a third party vendor to produce the audio stream. Typically those low cost boards have to be cleaned up…we try to produce a clean source from the ground up.

We have a low, medium and a high price point and people are free to experiment within the range with their own power supply. Yes the Signature is our attempt at the best all in one product we can make without regard to cost. The signature has one regulator in the PS that alone is over $70, has EMI absorbing material, hand made in the US, ultra low noise regulation, class rated transformer, ultra low noise and class rated ICs, ultra low noise oscillators. Some your DACs don’t have the level parts that we use in the design.

Some of you have complained about the cost of the SE and even compared it to another product. Yet that other product is about $2000 more than the SE.

Some of you have complained about the multi box solution. You will be hard pressed to find me recommending clock upgrades, USB fixer uppers, and all the silly things we see people trying on the web. Let me reiterate that fiber optic cables provide 100% galvanic isolation. What you will find is me recommending that you use the best power supply you can afford with your Rendu.

FYI in November we will be offering a one box ultraRendu and opticalModule solution. These one box solutions will be based on a linear power supply at an affordable price…no SMPS here. More information to follow.

In regards to i2s. We had a Rendu SPDIF/i2s solution some time ago. These units were and are still excellent digital sources. Some were hardware upgraded with matching ultra low noise oscillators we had tested and sorted by phase noise (very expensive process) and they have incredibly low jitter. These were based on a Swiss designed board with isolation on the i2s signals. All of them had linear power supplies with that expensive regulator we have already talked about. I like LVDS i2s as much as you guys, but it’s not something that is needed along side of a Rendu USB output. Right now our support of i2s in only in the form of an external USB bus power converter that is also very low jitter.

Again my two cents and please feel free to ask me anything about our products.


I have owned and used a variety of your products an I believe they are all excellent and kindly priced. But that’s just me. The Signature Rendu kicks some serious bottom!


Unforunately I can’t offer any assistance, no Sonore in the house.