Most reviewers and magazines will only give fairly positive reviews - if something is substandard, they send it back and don’t review it. I don’t exactly agree with that, but I get the approach.
Chris mostly reviews very expensive or very inexpensive stuff. So most of the expensive stuff is obviously very good - it’s then a question of is it worth the money, not how good it is. So that stuff gets good reviews. With the inexpensive stuff it’s the opposite - the review centers on whether the device works well and if it is a good value. No one expects the $300 item to sound as good as a $3000 item of the same type.
Darko directly compares components when he can - I find that very useful; Chris as a matter of approach doesn’t do that. So he won’t write A is better than B - he will write about how good the item sounds to him. In this case, when he’s previously reviewed the Aries and Aurender components and then reviews the mR - saying it’s the best he’s heard - then in context I think the meaning is clear. Don’t forget he also had the mR plugged into the $1300 Sonore LPS specifically designed for the mR. YMMV.
Personally I’ve never relied on reviewers to inform my audio equipment purchases and I doubt that’ll ever change. There’s little to no transparency and too many self appointed experts, many of whom have time and again demonstrated a complete lack of understanding of fundamental basics for them to be taken seriously.
Ok. I grouped the Aries (Roon Ready) and microRendu (Roon Ready). The Aries connects by AES and the microRendu by USB to the Vega. The Aries was powered by its own Auralic linear power supply, the microRendu by the iFi switched supply.
I then listened to a number of tracks stopping and starting through Roon when changing inputs (had to do this because the USB Zone disappears when it’s not selected in the DAC).
I can’t say whether any differences were attributable to the devices or the connections, the differences were in accordance with my preconceptions about the connections so there is every possibility of confirmation bias.
The differences were subtle. I would have zero confidence in my doing better than chance in a blind test.
With the Aries/AES my attention gravitated to the midrange; grunt and body.
With the microRendu/USB my attention gravitated to the higher frequencies; air and decay. I thought there was a very marginally bigger soundstage image with the microRendu.
I could live very happily with either, which makes the microRendu much better value if you just want a Roon Ready device and don’t need Wi-Fi or any of the Lighntning DS stuff. Not as good value of course as a low cost ARM device solution.
I may have to turn in my audiophile nerd badge as I couldn’t hear enough of a difference to persuade myself I could pick it blind. Personally I’ll go back to HQP and microRendu (NAA) upsampling to DSD128 as I find my system and the Vega slightly hard in the upper frequencies and HQP is a more natural sound there for me.
Thank you for doing this!!! So it sounds like you’re putting your Aries out on the curb. Let me know when you do and I’ll come by and pick it up
When you say that the microRendu is “Not as good value of course as a low cost ARM device solution” is that because it’s $600 and for low-cost ARM devices that’s really expensive? Now that I think about it, I could get a MacMini for the same price (albeit with much higher system management requirements).
No worries Mike. I really should sell the Aries, but my usual style is lending my unused gear to friends. On the other hand I could get a new turntable and cartridge, so that could work…
The ARM devices I’m thinking of are Raspberry Pi 2 or 3, BeagleBone Black or CuBox-i. All worthy of consideration as Roon endpoints and available for under $200. The mR is better than the CuBox I had been using and is heaps more convenient with the app changing software. It’s worth the extra $ to me but I could well understand someone deciding otherwise or spending the difference on hi res downloads.
[quote=“Mike_Pinkerton, post:17, topic:12732, full:true”]
When you say that the microRendu is “Not as good value of course as a low cost ARM device solution” is that because it’s $600 and for low-cost ARM devices that’s really expensive? [/quote]
It’s also whether you can hear the difference. I don’t have golden ears, and I can’t.
[quote=“andybob, post:18, topic:12732”]
The ARM devices I’m thinking of are Raspberry Pi 2 or 3, BeagleBone Black or CuBox-i. All worthy of consideration as Roon endpoints and available for under $200.
[/quote]An Odroid is $40, with an enclosure and power supply you’re in for $50.
In spite of what audiophiles often write (“OMG!”) - IME such differences are often subtle and often come down to personal preference, not better or worse.
I like the SQ with the mR better than with a direct USB connection (with or without a USB cleanup device in line); but I can imagine someone else having the opposite preference. Same with several other aspects of my system. That’s why I like it when reviewers directly compare 2 components and describe the differences - that often gives me a big clue about which one I’d prefer (which isn’t the same as saying which is better).
I also prefer the software, form factor, and convenience of the mR, but those are different considerations.
Everything else I’ve seen or tried.
As Roon Bridge transports?
I just bought a RPi3 with case, mem card, power supply, and other etc etc for $65 on Amazon with next-day prime delivery. Let’s see how that works. It’s certainly cheaper than the Aries
If you’re only using Roon as your streaming solution then any Roon Bridge setup is a set and forget configuration…install the OS, install Roon Bridge, press play. There’s no need for a UI because post initial install there’s nothing to maintain or configure. I’m sure you’ll find the Pi will do the job nicely.
It sounds superior In whatever format you use it, IME. It has several, not just Roon.
If you don’t believe in something like the mR, there are cheaper options, even some with similar software options (SonicOrbiter, SOtM SMS-200 and the (discontinued but available 2nd hand) SMS-100. Or of course PI and Cubox, if you are okay with fiddling a bit.
[quote=“danny2, post:28, topic:12732”]
It has several, not just Roon.
[/quote]yip, thx, I’m aware of that, as a Roon’s all I use its only use as a Roon Bridge I’m interested in .
Would love to see a comparison like this of the rendu with DIY devices like the Pi and BeagleBone Black.
Edit: Looks like you are saying the ARM devices are a better bank for the buck (missed that on the first read). But I still would like to see you compare them side to side and see if you can hear the difference.
I’ve used a bunch of variations on this theme, from CuBox-i with Volumio (<$100) end to microRendu with a Teddy Pardo PS (~$1000) through a Sonicorbiter SE and a SOtM sMS-100, with and without a Bel Canto mLink USB>coax isolator/reclocker. Even the cheapest combo was acceptable, but the two I have in operation now aret as follows: Sonicorbiter SE+DC iPurifier>mLink (>Bel Canto C7R integrated DAC/amp>KEF Reference 1s) and microRendu+Teddy Pardo (>Schiit Bifrost Multibit>Schiit Asgard 2>MrSpeakers Alpha Prime). I’ve not compared all possible combos of these components, but microRendu+TeddyPardo beats sMS100+TeddyPardo>mLink beats sMS100+SMPS>mLink beats sMS100+SMPS (all into Bifrost Multibit playing FLAC with MPD/DLNA). Improvements are mainly in attack/decay reproduction and instrument separation and placement, bringing me closer to the many live jazz and classical shows I get to, often with the same musicians that I listen to recorded. For example, just listening on my speaker system with Roon (not the one with the microRendu) to the Brad Mehldau Trio on “Everything in Its Right Place” (from “Anything Goes”). I’ve heard Mehldau and this trio’s bassist Larry Grenadier live many times. What I’m hearing now sounds closer to the live experience than with the earlier setups, but I’m planning to get another microRendu with a good PS for the speaker system for that extra ounce of clarity that I heard on my headphone system.
Who is this Chris you talk of?
I think he meant Chris Connacker, the founder of Computer Audiophile https://www.computeraudiophile.com/