Media Server Reviews

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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jan 26, 2017 28 comments
You Know Who You Are
To my mind, there will be three main types of response to this review:
  1. $16k for a computer? Are you nuts?
  2. I wonder if I can get a large % of this performance for a lot less $
  3. I'd like to listen to the SGM in my system
My guess is you know who you are before reading any further.
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Steven Plaskin Posted: Jan 19, 2017 9 comments
PS Audio’s new DirectStream Memory Player builds on the success of its predecessor, the PerfectWave Memory Player, with a new design that they feel is state-of-the-art in the extraction of data from multiple disc sources. PS Audio is not new to the design of disc players having introduced the PerfectWave Transport in 2009. The DirectStream Memory Player represents an evolution of technology that has resulted in a highly versatile disc player.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Dec 15, 2016 10 comments
Optimized
The SOtM sMS-1000SQ Windows Edition comes with AudiophileOptimizer. See Steve Plaskin's review to learn the ins and outs of AO. I'll just add/agree that it makes this machine sound better, too. The review SOtM unit is the Digital Version, meaning there's no DAC inside. There's also no internal storage, you can add music storage (up to 4TB). What you have, then, is an Optimized Windows server that can come pre-loaded with your choice of Roon, TIDAL, Qobuz, Foobar2000 & JRiver (you have to pay for whatever you decide to use) that will send its digital output to DAC of choice.
Steven Plaskin Posted: Dec 08, 2016 21 comments
The Nimitra Computer Audio Server is the design of Keetakawee Punpeng, the creator of Fidelizer. I have previously written about Fidelizer Pro, software that optimizes the Windows operating system for use with music software. Keetakawee, who hails from Thailand, decided to combine his software talents and computer hardware knowledge to create a reference audiophile music server. He also wanted a server that would not only be better sounding than an off-the-shelf computer, but a device that would be effortless in terms of setup and use. The Nimitra was conceived as a plug and play device that would take the frustration out of the use of a computer for audio and let users concentrate on their enjoyment of music.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Dec 01, 2016 11 comments
All-In-One With A Twist
The ELAC Discovery is a one-box solution for people looking to turn their digital music collection, streamed and stored, into analog while using Roon to control playback. The Discovery handles gapless playback and PCM resolutions up to 24-bit/192kHz (WAV, AIFF, FLAC, ALAC, OGG, MP3, AAC) while offering two analog outputs + WiFi for multiroom(s) audio. Here's the twist: Discovery runs on Roon Essentials, which negates the need for a separate device running Roon Server/Core, and Roon Essentials is included in the Discovery's price.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jul 14, 2016 109 comments
Guess Who's Back?
If you've been following Roon's development, you know that you need to run Roon Core on either a computer or a NAS. Since I already own a NAS, which is underpowered for running Roon Core, I thought I'd explore the world of mini computers by reviewing two; an Intel NUC and a sonicTransporter i5 (sT). Why two? To see if there's any difference.
Steven Plaskin Posted: Jun 16, 2016 16 comments
Andreas Koch, Founder, CEO, and Engineer along with Bert Gerlach, Engineer have recently released the new Playback Designs Sonoma Series that includes the Syrah Server, Merlot DAC, and OpBox conversion kit for the Oppo103 Blu-ray Disc Player. Another component in the Sonoma series is also slated for release called the Pinot that is an Analog Digital Convertor. I’m sure a number of you have noticed that the Sonoma Series has named the products after fine wines. Andreas previously worked for Sony developing the first native DSD recorder and workstation. Sony’s chairman at that time felt that DSD’s potential and performance was similar to a good wine; hence the name Sonoma for the workstation. Andreas’ view of musical experiences and fine wine:
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jun 09, 2016 12 comments
Baetis
Think fly fishing: Baetis is a genus of mayflies that happens to be on every trout's mind and menu. Baetis, the company, is located on the banks of the Yellowstone River in Montana so my guess is trout is on their mind and menu.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Apr 21, 2016 10 comments
NAS/Music Server/Streamer/CD Ripper/DAC/Headphone Amp
I'm sure some will want more, but that's a lot of functionality fit inside one relatively small box. The Bluesound Vault 2 makes computer audio easy—a one box solution for all of your computer audio needs. No need to fret about which NAS to buy, what streamer, which DAC and headphone amp, and there's no need for a computer. You will need a tablet for remote control and a love of music to make it all work as intended.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Mar 10, 2016 18 comments
2TB + NAS
The Aurender N100H houses 2TBs of internal storage while also offering the ability to play music from network attached storage (NAS) and USB storage. In addition to developing their own iOS Condutor app for remote control, Aurender also offers their free AMM (Aurender Media Manager) software for Mac and PC which essentially reads the contents of attached storage making it available in the Aurender app as if it was stored internally, metadata and all. This is a huge improvement over older versions where external storage was only available via Folder view. Since the N100H caches both locally-stored and NAS-based music in its 120GB solid-state drive (SSD) prior to playback, you can outgrow those 2TBs without performance concerns.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Nov 19, 2015 18 comments
"A Digital Signal Is Not Just Bits"
So says Antipodes (and many others including me). They go on, "A digital signal sent from a digital source to a DAC is an electrical or optical wave. The DAC's receiver reads the wave to identify the bits. When the wave has electronic noise interference and/or timing errors, the bits can still be read but the bits are not recognised with perfect timing and this results in poor sound regardless of the DAC used." Oh heck, let's just light the fuse, "Faith in theory, without empirical testing in the intended application, is dangerous because all theories are gross simplifications of what really happens, so don't fall for the 'bits is bits' or reclocking rhetoric." Run!
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Nov 12, 2015 26 comments
Let's Talk Melco
Did you know that Buffalo Inc., makers of Wireless routers, Ethernet Data Switches and storage devices including NAS drives (and much more) began as a hi-fi company called Melco (Maki Engineering Laboratory COmpany)? Makoto Maki started up his company in Japan in 1975 "to design and manufacture the finest audio components of the time". Today Melco Holdings Inc., the parent company of Buffalo Inc. and 13 others including Melco, is the largest computer peripherals manufacturer in Japan.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Sep 24, 2015 13 comments
"SQ"
I favorably reviewed the SOtM sMS-1000U Music Server back in 2013 (see review). Since then, SOtM has been working on their flagship music server that now comes with the "SQ" model designation. Among the upgrades from "U" to "SQ" is a standard Solid State Drive (32G SSD for OS), a high quality audio grade USB 3.0 host card using the company's tX-USBexp PCI express USB 3.0 host interface card, external power option for the audio USB output, and a "much improved ultra low noise regulator, jitter clock and active noise canceler." The idea being, better sound.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: May 18, 2015 0 comments
I was very favorably impressed with Digibit's Aria Server (see review) so I was happy to see them in Munich showing off the Aria's little brother the DLNA and AirPlay-enabled Aria Mini ($3200). The Mini can accommodate up to 2TB of HDD storage or 1TB of SSD storage into its fanless and fun form factor. You can attach to your network-attached storage via Ethernet/Wi-Fi or USB storage via its USB input. The Mini also houses a 32/384 and DSD128 capable DAC or you can opt to exit through its USB output (ASIO, WASAPI and Kernel streaming) to your DAC of choice.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Apr 28, 2015 6 comments
If you read Mark Jenkins', Founder & CEO, Antipodes Audio Limited, response to my review of the Antipodes DX server, you'll have read this:
"Regarding your observation of a decrease in sound quality when playing back music from the NAS using DLNA: in general, this is true. But if you'll allow us to assist you in setup mounting the QNAP, you'll find that the difference in sound quality between the internal storage and the mounted NAS is very small -indeed, tiny. We'd be happy to help you in the setup process, just as we would with any customer; the improvement in sound quality compared to playback through DLNA is well worth the minor effort involved."
So that's exactly what we did. Using TeamViewer, I invited Mark into my iMac, what an odd feeling that is, and he went about mounting the QNAP NAS after which I went about listening. Antipodes will perform this same service for any customer.

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