Sonicorbiter 2.5: Making the microRendu Better

The guys at Sonore and Small Green Computer recently released a software upgrade to their SonicOrbitor OS, version 2.5, which is delivered via hardware, a microSD card. The cost is $20 including shipping (or should that read—mailing?) and performing the upgrade takes all of minutes. The result? A better microRendu.

the microRendu running Sonicorbiter 2.5 browser window (detail)

My main interest and use for the microRendu has been, and continues to be, as a Roon endpoint. But here's the checklist of changes included in Sonicorbiter 2.5 from Sonore:

  1. The base operating system and Kernel has been updated.
  2. All the pre-configured applications have been updated to the latest release versions and or stable versions.
  3. DSD playback now supports Native DSD with POP free PCM/DSD transitions. [Sonore highlights this change as one of the major reasons for 2.5, Ed.]
  4. New devices have been added that support Native DSD playback.
  5. Spotify Connect has been added as a new output mode. This new output mode can be controlled by your computer or tablet running the Spotify application. The application can be installed and uninstalled from Software Manager. This application is based on librespot—an open source client library for Spotify (the application is currently in Beta form).
  6. A SongCast receiver has been added to the existing MPD/DLNA output mode. This new output mode accept streams from your computer running Linn Songcast. The application can be installed and uninstalled from the Software manager. The application is in Beta form.
  7. This version also contains other bug fixes and enhancements.
Some may be interested in Spotify Connect and up until last month I wouldn't have been but now that Stephen Mejias' column, Weird New Pop, is going strong and includes a Spotify Playlist, a very special Spotify Playlist at that, I might take Spotify for a spin. But that's not my main interest in 2.5.

Can a software revision change the way the microRendu sounds
That is my interest in 2.5. I've been listening to music through the microRendu since last summer (my review is dated July 6, 2016) so I know what my system sounds like as such. But being ever vigilant and wholly steadfast, I sat down in my red Eames LCW, screwed on my ears extra tight and listened to the microRendu. Again. I then performed the all-but-a-few-minute upgrade to 2.5, sat back down in my red Eames LCW and listened to the same music I was listening to before the upgrade, again.

Iona Fortune's Tao of I sounded like it was recorded in a larger, quieter, space. And it sounded so because I could hear the position of instruments more clearly and these same instruments were separated by more space within my space in the barn as compared to the old Sonicorbiter OS. Nice.

This improved clarity graced every piece of music I played through 2.5. That list is too long to type because I listen to a lot of music every day. So this review was easy in that I recommend that any microRendu owners looking for better sound should plunk down a Jackson and buy 2.5. No ifs, ands, or buts and worth the 20 bucks.

Does this upgrade bridge the gap between the mini-mite microRendu and the mighty mite dCS Network Bridge (see review)? Of course it does, since the mR got better. But keep in mind I'm connecting the dCS to my totaldac via a length of Tellurium Q Black AES cable while the microRendu's sole output is USB so I used a Tellurium Q Black USB cable to connect to the same totaldac. So we're not talking an AES to AES or even a USB to USB comparison.

We are, however, talking about two devices that perform, in a general sense, the exact same function—connecting your network to your hi-fi. In this more general sense, I still prefer the dCS (Sonore also noted that Vincent Brient, Mr. totaldac, typically prefers his DAC's AES input). Another weight on the dCS' scale is that for my job it's great to have multiple digital outputs for checking out DAC's other digital inputs (beyond USB).

Wars have been fought over less and I'm certain that mighty microRendu lovers will be at once happy with this mini review and unhappy; happy that I continue to sing the mR's praises, and unhappy that I did not say it equaled or bested the dCS. Such is life in the big bad hi-fi league.

To run with Spotify Connect, all one need do is tell the mR to do so through its browser-based app (you need to know its IP address which you can find in your router's browser-based admin pages), have Spotify loaded on your device-O-choice (I used my iPad), and tell Spotify to play through the mR . You have to have a Spotify Premium Account ($9.99/mo) for this to work so I signed up for the free 7 day trial (I'm sticking with Tidal HiFi as my paid streaming service).

Nice! Both Stephen's list and the ability to have just the microRendu and Spotify as music source. No NAS, no HDD, no. . .nothing. Then again I'm of the generation that needs to own things so that I feel more. . .important. Or something like that. The sound quality via Spotify Connect was obviously not on par with my music or streaming from Tidal HiFi (all via Roon) but it did sound good;1 Eminently listenable and again a one-two punch that delivers millions of albums to your listening room for $9.99/month + $680 for the microRendu (and whatever you choose to use as its power supply).

For audiophile paranoiacs, "What if 2.5 makes everything Worse!?" [It doesn't, Ed.] Fear not—just put the old SD Card back in. Catastrophe avoided.

yes, the microRendu and UpTone Audio UltraCap LPS-1 get their very own shelf so they're not going anywhere

Sonicorbiter 2.5. Just say Yes.

Sonicorbiter 2.5 Software for the microRendu

1. Spotify streams at 320kbps while Tidal HiFi streams CD-quality and better via Tidal Masters (MQA)

bobflood's picture

the same experience and came to the same conclusion. Easy to install and made a very noticeable improvement.

tubefan9's picture

how did you mount that to the wall?

Michael Lavorgna's picture
I used an existing L bracket that resides underneath.
bobflood's picture

side looks to need a bit more support. The JB might be putting strain on the MR output connector.

Michael Lavorgna's picture
Jorgen Skadhauge's picture

I would have liked to see the update including Qobuz Connect - especially now where Qobuz propose Hirez streamming 24/192.
Right now I use Squeezelite with a Qobuz link, sounds OK, but its not the same pleasure to search a composer or musicien as when using the Qobuz ipad app. Dommage!!!

vortecjr's picture

Dommage...why? Have you looked at this setup for Qobuz for use on the on the microRendu?

agentsmittie's picture

Will the new microrendu include the new updates?

vortecjr's picture