Manufacturer's Response

Michael,

Thank you so much for your thorough and insightful review. You've described the sound of our servers very well: lots more detail, but all in proportion so that it just conveys the musical event better. We're grateful that you've pointed out that a laptop, while convenient, does a poor job as a music-source compared to a well-designed server. As you've theorized, noise is a major factor here, but there are many other contributing factors which we'll get into another day, rather than prattling on here.

Regarding the DX's storage: the DX is technically capable of utilizing four SSD units, for a total of 4TB storage. However, we've not been happy with the slight degradation in sound quality heard when we add the third and fourth SSDs, caused by having all four devices with the same noise footprint. For some time now, we've been conducting a thorough examination of the problem; we believe we are on the right track with technology to resolve the issue, and will eventually be able to offer a 4TB DX with sound quality and noise levels identical to the 1 and 2TB units. Given the lengthy, thorough test protocols we implement before offering any new product, we expect that it may well be a year before the 4TB unit is available.

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.

We're very pleased by this positive review, and honored to receive the Greatest Bits Award. As we expand our dealer network throughout the US, we hope that many of your readers will come to hear the immersive and enjoyable listening experience our servers provide. We're also very keen to meet many more American audiophiles when we exhibit at THE Show at Newport Beach in May.

Thank you again for your efforts!—Mark Jenkins, Founder & CEO, Antipodes Audio Limited

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COMMENTS
CG's picture

Two questions...

Was there a performance difference when using the 5V On connection? I know it's not required for your set-up, but it might matter.

Were you using a wall adaptor power supply with the MacBook?

Michael Lavorgna's picture
Yes, I was using the MacBook's wall adapter power supply.

I'm going to write a follow-up to try out Mark Jenkins's claim from his manufacturer's reply, "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."

I could also try the 5v On.

Mark Jenkins's picture

I would like to make two and a half points.

1. IT DEPENDS ON THE SERVER

The benefits of having 5v power on versus 5v power off depend on the server. If the server is electronically noisy then the 5v power supply is likely to transfer noise into the DAC as well as transmit that noise into the data signal carried by the USB cable.

But if the 5v power is very clean the audible difference is very small.

In the case of the Antipodes DV and DX Music Servers the USB output card receives its power from an excellent dedicated (to the audio card only) linear regulated power supply with high current capability. Plus, the USB output card has extensive local linear regulation to feed each chip and transistor on the card, and to regulate the 5v output to the USB cable. Therefore the 5v power is at least the equal of a 5v power rail supplied by the DAC's power supply.

This is very different to when you use say a Mac Mini or a basic music server, where there is a very high noise component on the power supply rails, and you don't want this inside your DAC or powering any part of it.

2. IT DEPENDS ON THE DAC

Some inexpensive DACs power the whole DAC from the 5v power from the server. The quality and current capability of the 5v power is very important.

Some DACs have their own power supply but power their USB receiver chips from the 5v power from the server. This is nice and simple but not too smart. The quality of the 5v power is important.

Some DACs just use the existence of the 5v power on the USB cable as a way to sense that there is a USB connection present, meaning the USB receiver chip should be powered up (by the DAC's internal power supply, not from the server). This is a better way to do things. But the USB receiver chip will be powered up even when not in use, potentially affecting the sound quality when using other inputs. This method may still introduce some noise to the DAC from the dirty 5v power on a poor server.

Some DACs don't need the USB 5v for anything and power their USB receiver chip up or down based on the input selected or the presence of a digital signal (which may or may not be based on there being any music on that signal).

And of course...

2.5 IT DEPENDS ON THE USB CABLE

My main point is that performing one experiment with one server, one USB cable and one DAC may give you a clear answer, but that clear answer cannot be reported as a general rule.

The assertion I will make is that 5v On versus 5v Off makes only a very minor difference with our servers because the noise component on the 5v output is so low, and is not focused in a damaging frequency range. Electronic noise is a little like vibration - you cannot eliminate it, but you can tune it to be in a less damaging place and spread it a little to reduce peaks - and this is actually the key to our total approach to server design.

The results Michael experienced with the DX are certainly not dependent on using a DAC that does not need the 5v supply. My favourite DAC, that I use every day, actually needs the 5v supply on.

CG's picture

OK.

Michael: Nevermind. :8^)

VK's picture

There's nothing better that that! Simple and convenient! And you can rest assured that your files will remain "perfect forever" (ok, nothing reeeaallly is perfect forever, but you got the point). And, you can protect your loved music by backin' it up everywhere you want!

Although this gear is way too expensive to me, it's great to see how computer audio is evolving! Nice Review!

PS.: i live in Brazil,so US$ 1 = R$ 3,13 and the base salary here is only R$ 788 = US$ 251. This means that this piece of gear, without the taxes, costs 26 times more than the monthly salary of a common worker around here... yeah, cool isn't it??)

As always, best regards!!

Assisi's picture

Hi Michael,

You say in the review above that...."you can also connect a USB hard drive to the unit's USB Backup port and the DX will access and play its contents." My understanding is that this is not correct. It is for backup only. Other than that I concur totally with you impressions. The result that the DX produces is magical. Everybody should have one.

Regards
John

Michael Lavorgna's picture
Assisi's picture

This is a feature that is not in my manual and is new as you say. Thanks for the update. I will investigate.

Regards

John