sonicTransporter i9

Anyone happy/unhappy with this product?
I’m considering it as an upgrade to my Mac Mini, which runs Roon Core and HQPlayer (feeding an ultraRendu and Peachtree Nova150). The ST i9 appeals because it is a bit cheaper than the Nucleus+, yet more flexible (since for example it can run HQP).

One concern is the i9’s power consumption (30w-90w compared to 10w for the Nucleus) and associated heat. My gear is all in a wooden cabinet, open to the back and (as long as the doors are open) to the front. I leave my music server on 24/7. I would want to place the new server in the same cabinet (or very nearby). I could move it to another room, where the cable service comes in from the utility pole, but there is no ethernet connection (only WiFi) from the Orbi cable modem in that room to the Orbi satellite in the listening room. Installing a fiber optic backhaul is about 5 projects away.

The Mac Mini actually works rather well. It’s quiet, cool, has a small footprint, and runs both Roon Core and HQPlayer (as well as a lot of other music-related stuff). It’s fine with PCM upsampling to the maximum my DAC can handle (384kHz), or up to DSD128. I wonder if I’d even get much SQ improvement with a different Core server.

No responses in 2 months? I guess not too many folks have ordered these. I received mine today after a 2 month wait. SGC had some problems with their parts supply chain.

I hooked it up this afternoon and migrated my Roon core from my Mac Mini to the sT i9. Sounds great! Although the Peachtree Nova 150 apparently won’t go beyond DSD 128. I had hoped that was a limitation of the Apple Core Audio, not of the Nova necessarily.

I received my i9 yesterday Tom. They had been waiting for for the delivery of the cases. I packed up my i5 and sent it back today. Fortunately Andrew extended the 30 day return when I decided to upgrade shortly after the first purchase.
I am hoping to be able to set it up tomorrow.
I look forward to see what the HQ filters do for the sound. When I tried with the i5 DSDx4 it didn’t sound as good as DSDx2.
Had you used another SGC prior to the i9?
How do you have yours connected in and out of your i9?
I plan on using ethernet in and out of the i9 and sending it to my UltraRendu. From there I will use USB to my Playback Designs Stream IF where DSD upsample is delt with, reclocked again then sent via fiber to my Playback Designs MPS-5.
I know I will be changing some cables as I need some shorter wires now. I hate wiring mess, yes OCD here.

I had not used another SGC music server prior to the i9, only a Mac Mini (for Roon Core) and (more recently) an ultraRendu.

I’ve tried several wiring configurations. Right now, I have the ST i9 patched to my Orbi WiFi satellite, and the uRendu patched to the 2nd ethernet port on the i9. I’m still running HQ Player on the Mini, which is patched in to the same WiFi satellite. Originally, I had intended to use HQP embedded on the new i9. However, I discovered I’d need a different license key for the i9 (the key for the HQP Desktop won’t work).

The uRendu feeds a Peachtree Nova 150’s USB-B port. I can’t seem to go beyond a DSD-128 limit, but today that was running fine and sounding great.

But yes, this is more little boxes and more wires than I’d prefer.

I don’t have my sonicTransporter i9 yet. It should ship out tomorrow as I ordered it with a 4TB internal spinner that SGC doesn’t stock.

I just sold my sonicTransporter i5 a few days ago and I was thoroughly happy with it and the support I got from SGC. I wanted to do some HQPlayer Embedded DSD upsampling that the i5 could not handle. I looked at all the other options out there, including building my own system, but decided that SGC and the sonicTransporter i9 were the best option.

I am a Linux admin so I could handle all the Linux/Roon/HQPlayer integration and updates. But I didn’t want to do that work. I wanted my music hobby to be about the music. The sonicTransporter setup is so easy to deal with that it really was a simple choice. It’s far more versatile than the Nucleus setup and the sonicTransporter i9 is much more powerful that the Nucleus Plus.

I look forward to playing with the new Roon 1.7 software with my sT i9 this weekend!

Maybe so … for a Linux admin.
I did have a couple of hair-pulling setup issues.

First, the ether-USB chain (ST-ultraRendu-amp) took some troubleshooting to connect. SGC (Andrew) recommended rebooting the amp, which worked. I’m not sure whether to attribute the problem to SGC, the amp, or to USB as an audio interface. Probably the latter. It’s not always as reliable as plugging in coax or RCA cables. The order of operations seems to matter. Sometimes.

Second, the HQ Player set-up took me a while to figure out there was a problem with the key. I did not notice any error msg, it just pooped out after ~30 minutes (because it was running in trial mode). It took me another little while to figure out that I had to take out the ST’s HQP embedded version before the HQP Desktop version, running on my Mac Mini, would recognize the ultraRendu, in NAA mode.

Issues like this may be par for the course if you’re a hobbyist who frequents Roon discussion forums. I think they’d be show-stoppers for many consumers who want a true plug-and-play experience.

The good news is you had SGC to help you with the problem you experienced with your DAC/amp. That likely would have happened with any Roon Core as the ultraRendu was the device having a problem with your DAC/amp.

HQPlayer is not a product for the plug-and-play consumer. Expecting it to be is folly. There are just too many options and decisions to be made. But, if you had purchased the sT i9 with HQPlayer Embedded from SGC, I suspect that problem would not have occurred. But, if it had, you would be have received great support from SGC.

If you take HQPlayer out of the equation, the sT i9 is just as turnkey and plug-and-play as any Roon Rock device.

Hey guys, I am currently having a problem getting the i9 to see my Synology NAS. I am going to try again later but GRRRRRRRRRRRR it is frustrating for a not tech guy.

I’ll be asking for help later.
Brad

I had similar problems with ultraRendu when setting up my i5 upscaling to my dac. Andrew was able to log in to my iPad and get it working in about 10 minutes.
For all my concentration on exactly what Andrew did, I couldn’t find the same set up options he was using.
I was able to get Roon to find my NAS files today but still no time for listening. Hopefully Sunday.

Next challenge HQP setup and filter choice.

I currently have a ST i7 running Windows. My music is on a Synology NAS. I am interested in buying the ST i9 running Linux providing a simpler User Interface and faster processor for DSP. Could someone provide me with the i9 processor model number so that I can compare it with the i7.
Thanks

The processor we use is the i9-9900 (8-core).

The case stays cool when it’s not working but does get warm if it’s doing a lot of upsampling.

If you need to put it in another room you can use HomePlug. I have found that to be more reliable then Wi-Fi.

Thanks Andrew.

In my case at least, “warm” can be an understatement. With HQPlayer (embedded) running, the case surface becomes too hot for me to hold my hand on it for more than a few seconds. I would not want it inside a cabinet or rack crowded with other gear.

The heat is not a problem in a rack if provide just a little of space above and beside the sonicTransporter i9. My Class A solid state amp and my KT88 tube amp generate much more heat. I wouldn’t put anything but a Class D amp inside an enclosed cabinet.

The i9-9900 is a 65w part and the case is designed to handle 65w CPUs.

Tom, Brad, Speed_Racer,

Can you guys post some feedback after having for a while? Wondering about thermals, SQ, use with and without optical, Rendus, etc. Thanks for sharing.

I have the sT i9 plus an ultraRendu. The latter is powered by an Ultracap LPS 1.2. With my open-back cabinet, I have little concern about any of these components overheating. But do give them some breathing room.

My biggest complaint about the sT i9 is the power switch location/functioning and the lack of any indicator on the front panel. It does not gracefully recover after a power outage. If everything else has come back on, I may not even realize power went out briefly during the night (or while away from the house) and that the sT i9 is off. In other respects, I’m satisfied with the sonicTransporter.

As for the ultraRendu, I cannot resist switching into HQ Player to dink around with HQ player filters from time to time. Aside from that thrill, sometimes I feel USB is more trouble than it’s worth. For me, an ethernet connection offers better/easier plug-and-play reliability, with nearly equivalent SQ. Maybe with more “revealing” speakers I’d hear a bigger difference. I’m skeptical of any real-world advantage optical might offer with my current gear.

By far the biggest SQ differences I’ve noticed in the past year have been from changes in loudspeaker placement. Much bigger than usb vs. ethernet, one HQP filter vs. another, or the ultraRendu vs. another streamer. With my gear, my room, my ears. YMMV.

1 Like

I love my sonicTransporter i9. Thermally, it stays reasonably cool even when upsampling to DSD128 using HQPlayer. I use an ultraRendu over Ethernet so I can’t tell you how the sonicTransporter i9 affects sound quality as I don’t think the Core used makes much if any difference when using an endpoint over Ethernet.

I am fully capable of setting up my own Linux box to run Roon and HQPlayer. But, I am really glad that I don’t have to. It is great using the web interface to upgrade the software installed on the sonicTransporter i9. Easy peasy!

Tom, Speed_Racer,

Thank you both for the updates. I placed my order this morning. I’ve ordered from Andrew before and he is always helpful and kind.

I recently purchased an STi9 to run Roon/HQPlayer. At the other end is an opticalRendu. Switching from my i5 to i9 didn’t really improve the sound, but I’m still
using the supplied SMPS. I’m waiting for a cable that fits the odd size DV power jack on the i9. When I power it with a JS-2 I would expect it should sound a little better. Mostly I upgraded so I could run HQPlayer better.

@Ultrarunner

I would not expect it to sound better with the JS-2…especially as you are using an opticalRendu. How could it???