Sonore by Simple Design Signature Rendu SE

Device Type: Network Player
Full Specifications
Availability: Authorized Dealer or Direct Online
Price: $3,295.00

We Can Make It Better

The guys at Simple Designs set out to make their very good microRendu. . .better. How?

I'll let them explain:

...the Signature Rendu SE takes off from the microRendu concept, improving on it by refinement and attention to every detail. The Signature Rendu SE takes advantage of a single chassis design, allowing close coupling of the power supply and processing board for the ultimate in ultra-low impedance and ultra-low noise power delivery. The Signature Rendu SE processing board uses a larger footprint to allow for more independent low noise voltage regulation stages (all main board regulators are now ultra-low noise linear types), and better physical separation of the Ethernet processing and USB output sections, further reducing noise and crosstalk. A new ultra-low phase noise (so called 'femto') oscillator is used to govern all processing and USB audio output.
The question being—did they?

Before we get to the answer, let's take a quick walk around the Signature Rendu SE. As you can see, it's bigger than the microRendu (mR) for reasons covered above and there's one input (Ethernet) and one output (USB). The Signature Rendu SE will pass PCM resolutions up to 768kHz! and DSD512. The included Sonicorbiter 2.5 OS will accommodate a number of output modes including SqueezeLite Output, ShairPort Output, MPD/DLNA Output, MPD Output, Songcast Output, HQ Player NAA Output, RoonReady Output, and Spotify Connect Output. For people who stream exclusively, all one need do is connect the SE to your network and you can play music from Tidal/Qobuz (Squeezelite output mode and DLNA output mode) and Spotify. Cool.

The SE is dressed in black and looks and feels the part of a more expensive player. I used the SE as a Roon Endpoint and as such it worked flawlessly. My operating instructions; plug in Ethernet cable (both ends), connect USB cable (both ends), connect power cord (both ends), power on, select Signature Rendu SE in Roon, hit Play.

They Made It Better

It's really that simple—the Signature Rendu SE is better than the microRendu. But we all knew that would be the case otherwise there'd be no reason for the SE to exist. What I'm going to talk about is how "better" translated for me in the real world of listening to music (for pleasure).

The SE imparts more body to the voices of voices and instruments while also adding more timbral richness as compared to the mR. What this means is I get more of Eric Dolphy's clarinet, more Régine Crespin, more Jimi, Janis, and Jim, more Nils Frahm, more Akira Rabelais, and so on down the line. The overall presentation is also more expansive as compared to the mR and all of the various parts have more space of their own. Music is easier to follow even when things get really complicated and dense and crazy (Grinderman's "When My Baby Comes" offers a revenge-type story of increasing complication, denseness, and crazy).

Micro detail, or perhaps I should say all important micro detail, is captured and portrayed with elegance and clarity. I would attribute this perceived improvement to a lower noise floor because I've experienced greater clarity and micro detail retrieval before with devices designed to lower a system's noise floor. Shit works! Bass response through the SE bettered the mR by being more fully formed and forceful. There wasn't any area where the SE was bettered by the mR. Not a one (unless you count price as a thing unto itself ;-).

Another question for some readers is—is this "better" worth it? Only you and your hairdresser know for sure but if you spend long hours doing nothing but listening to music, my guess is it's worth it. It is for me because we are talking about a clear improvement in sound quality and, of greater import, a greater connection to the music.

Regular readers know I own and use the dCS Network Bridge to connect, via AES, to my totaldac d1-six. At present, the planed firmware upgrade which will allow the dCS to output via USB has yet to arrive so I cannot compare dCS to SE, apples to apples. In my experience, AES is the preferred method of connecting to any totaldac because it sounds better. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that I preferred the dCS via AES to the SE via USB. It sounded better. I could wax poetic on "better" but there's really no point (besides the wax). If you own a totaldac and want to hear it at it's best, feed it via AES.

I am still the proud owner of the Sonore microRendu and view it as a go-to recommendation for people looking for a network player to connect to their USB DAC. The Signature Rendu SE clearly betters the mR and certainly narrows the performance gap between the mR and the dCS making it another go-to recommendation for USB DAC owners.

All that being said, listening to music, lots of music over weeks of time, through the Signature Rendu SE/totaldac was pure pleasure. I got a healthy helping of all the things I know my system can do and what it does exquisitely well is give me pleasure; pleasure in allowing the present and its perceived trappings to fade away to. . .timeless music. A place of rejuvenation, delight, and discovery. What more can you ask for?

Better Is Good For the Soul

I don't know a bout you, but I love this hobby, especially when its focus is making things better. The guys at Simple Designs set out to make a better rendu and they've succeeded. Bravo!

Also in-use during the Signature Rendu SE review: totaldac d1-six, dCS Network Bridge, microRendu

Associated Equipment

Ixtayul's picture

So does this replace 6,7,8 in your connectivity setup?

Michael Lavorgna's picture
...6, 7, 8 come before. I like to think of it as part of the 'plumbing'.