The Search for the perfect End Point

I thought it might be useful to share with you my journey in trying to find a Roon endpoint that Ive been progressing over the past couple of months. Before I get into it, I want to confirm I am in no way associated with the any of the manufactures of the kit Ive tested, I just wanted to find the best endpoint I could within a £4000 budget. For me it has to sound warm with a large sound stage, detailed but not digital sounding.

My setup is Audio Note Soro SE Signature amp, Audio Note 2.1X Signature DAC and Audio note AN/E speakers. The DAC only has SP/DIFF and no USB connection so this limited the some of the choices. I have ROON running on an Intel NUC i7.

I started off with the Roon server connected directly to the DAC via a Hiface USB to SP/DIFF convertor, as I believed that all digital was digital and how could it make any difference. The Hiface went faulty so I replaced it with a Musical Fidelity expecting there to be no difference. As soon as I connected it there was a difference in the sound quality, proving to me that not all digital is equal. This triggered me to start the journey to find the best endpoint. This is the kit I tested, in my opinion in order of sound quality:

HiFace USB to SP/DIFF – very coarse and digital sounding limited sound stage

Musical Fidelity V-link – a step up from HiFace but still a long way to go

HifiBerry Digi+ - Gets the sound off the Rasberry Pi, not really hifi but great value for money

Bluesound Node 2i – very digital and bright sounding, didn’t sound realistic to me, good sound stage

Auralic Aries G1 – Very large sound stage , but again sounded very digital and processed and not a natural sound and I found it fatiguing very quickly

Meridian 210 – nice sounding player, quite neutral and not digital, but I found the sound stage to be compressed, it seemed you know the sound was coming from the each of the speakers but not much in the middle

DCS Bridge, very smooth and realistic sound, lacking some slight detail, nice sound stage, but is it now value for money?

Allo Digi+ Signature with Linear power supplies, amazing value for money, very smooth sound, huge sound stage, occasionally slight lack of realism but impossible to beat at the price

Lumin U1 Mini, this is the one Ive settled with for now, the music sounds very realistic and the speakers seems to disappear, huge sound stage, very easy to listen to for hours with getting fatiguing. Occasionally a little bright but nothing I cant live with.

DCS Bartok – absolutely sublime, tracks Id heard 100 times before sounded like remixes, this brings every bit of detail without sounding digital or processed, only problem is it was way out of my price range.

So the next step is to get a linear power supply for the Lumin, I will let you know if a few months how this upgrade improves the sound or not.


Do you mean the U1 mini the L1 is the little server unit not a streamer?

Yes well spotted my typo its the U1 mini.

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Nice summary of your impressions. :+1:t3:

I haven’t heard the Lumin (or any Lumin for that matter). But I demoed the DCS Bartok thinking of maybe replacing (downsizing) my Auralic Aries G2 + M-scaler + Chord DAVE. That proved impossible with the DCS sounding way less musical and at the same time more analytical and sterile.

Also from my personal experiences the last 10 days I really do not get the hype around Allo. Maybe the Digi+ Signature is far better than the USBridge Signature — but i don’t see why it should be. My experience with the latter is that it’s probably a good piece of equipment but not much better endpoint than a well designed laptop.

My Mac mini 2011 with UpTone modification is better or same performance as the Allo USBridge Signature with Shanti power supply. I had really high hopes for Allo but I’m sending the units back tomorrow. Had friends try to distinguish between the endpoints and they either couldn’t or picked the Mac 7-8 out of 10 times. Great return policy though!

That really is some setup with G2/scaler/DAV, but does it sound very digitally processed? What is the rest of the system you have?

I briefly had the Allo Digi standard and I can say there is a significant difference with the signature version as it has a clean and dirty board. For me what makes the Allo Digi Signature so special is the value for money, Ive not heard anything that can touch it for under £1700.

Try out the Trinnov Amethyst before you decide.

The G2/M-scaler/Dave sounds more alive and fluid than expensive ($8k+) vinyl rigs so I would say it definitely doesn’t sound digitally processed. dCS Bartók sounds great but in comparison couldn’t compete with Auralic+Chord. And maybe it was unfair to think it would.

The USBridge Signature Player + Shanti PSU should perform as well or better than the Digi Signature since the USBridge is only an endpoint at almost the same price point. I can think of endpoints that perform better that are just a bit more expensive. Sonore for example.

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Had the Auralic Aries G1 - kicked it out because an iPad (battery driven - no power supply) works equally good as a pure bridge/Endpoint into the DAC via USB. No difference in SQ when using Roon - which is fantastic! Also u can control it via iPhone.

Chord gear is great.

My Stack Audio LINK & SA LINK LPS/Chord HMS/TT2 combo gives my £16k Linn Klimax LP12 a good run for its money.

The Chord stack is that good, IMO.

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