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Mac AIR v MiND 180 v Auralic ARIES v totaldac d1 server
#1
As the name of the title suggests I've created a new thread to specifically focus on a very unscientific comparison taking place this afternoon between AIR, the Moon MiND 180 (which I've owned for a year or so), the Auralic ARIES and the totaldac d1-server.

Unfortunately it won't be possible to include a windows computer in the mix. I will however try streaming from my Macbook Air (13-inch, Mid 2013) using plain vanilla iTunes in Bit Perfect mode and AIR. Given a number of comments made in the forum I won't be trying J River on the Mac.

We won't do any blind testing since I find it intensely unpleasant and struggle to compare music anyway when it's done in short bursts. We intend to have a fun afternoon. Tongue

We'll be using a Chord Power Chord lead with the three streamers as well as using an Entreq Apollo RCA eartha cable which will connect each streamer to a Silver Tellus ground box. We will try a few tracks first without the Entreq ground cable and then with. There are some limitations to this test since it takes a good 20 minutes for Entreq to kick in, and at least a couple of hours to get most of the benefit.... and we obviously have a lot of boxes to test. Undecided

Ethernet cables used will be the excellent AQ Diamond at both NAS end and streamer end. We will also experiment with the totaldac ethernet cable if don't run out of time.

Kick-off is at 2pm GMT. Big Grin

Guillaume
Industry disclosure: UK distributor for Shunyata Research

O d'A no.63, Absolare Integrated Signature, totaldac d1 server with additional external power supply, totaldac d1-six, Wilson Audio Sasha 2, Transparent Ref XL digital cables, Transparent XL Gen 5 speaker cables, Ansuz Diamond Darkz, Shunyata mains cable prototypes, Shunyata Denali D6000/S, Shunyata Venom RCA, Audioquest Diamond Ethernet, Various Entreq ground boxes and cables, Paul Pang Audiophile switch w/ MCRU LPS,  sonicTransporter w/ 1TB SSD & MCRU LPS
UK
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#2
Have fun!
It'll be interesting to read about your observations.
Devialet 200 <> Bowers & Wilkins 805 Diamond <> Aurender N100 <> Clearaudio Concept MC <> Audioquest Rocket 44/Coffee USB

The Netherlands
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#3
I'm surprised and disappointed that you didn't set up up a web-cam so that we could all then watch and hear you do it (joke) Tongue

Seriously though, its really excellent that you and Rufus are doing this and I guess that it could seriously impact spending decisions for several of us on the forum.

I presume that you're concentrating on differences in sound for the comparison this afternoon but it would also be very helpful to have your views on the control software at some stage. I would also be very interested to hear how useable the Auralic Qobuz integration is and how it sounds.

Have a great time!

Philip
MacBook Pro Retina OS X 10.12.2 / Linn LP12 / Devialet 200 Wilson Benesch Discovery. 
Qobuz Desktop 1.5.0 / Audirvana Plus 2.6.4 / A+ Remote / iTunes 12.5.4.42 / AIR 3.0-release-candidate / Wi-Fi / FW 8.1.0 / SAM
Cambridge, UK (Updated 7th January, 2017)
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#4
(30-Aug-2014, 13:23)PhilP Wrote: I'm surprised and disappointed that you didn't set up up a web-cam so that we could all then watch and hear you do it (joke) Tongue

That's actually quite funny! Big Grin

(30-Aug-2014, 13:23)PhilP Wrote: I presume that you're concentrating on differences in sound for the comparison this afternoon but it would also be very helpful to have your views on the control software at some stage. I would also be very interested to hear how useable the Auralic Qobuz integration is and how it sounds.

Yes we're primarily focussing on SQ today. I haven't actually looked at Qobuz integration yet, both the ARIES and the totaldac feature this... will definitely try it though and report back (although probably not today).

Good points re CP, when you have to live with something it's quite important!

Guillaume
Industry disclosure: UK distributor for Shunyata Research

O d'A no.63, Absolare Integrated Signature, totaldac d1 server with additional external power supply, totaldac d1-six, Wilson Audio Sasha 2, Transparent Ref XL digital cables, Transparent XL Gen 5 speaker cables, Ansuz Diamond Darkz, Shunyata mains cable prototypes, Shunyata Denali D6000/S, Shunyata Venom RCA, Audioquest Diamond Ethernet, Various Entreq ground boxes and cables, Paul Pang Audiophile switch w/ MCRU LPS,  sonicTransporter w/ 1TB SSD & MCRU LPS
UK
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#5
What range of music are you planning to run through for this streamer fest?
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#6
(30-Aug-2014, 13:33)Confused Wrote: What range of music are you planning to run through for this streamer fest?

Will agree it with Rufus when he arrives but I'm thinking a cross section of Jazz, Folk and Classical... some redbook and a few 24bit recordings too. Music I'm very familiar with and with good production values...

Will post the music on here in a bit...

Guillaume
Industry disclosure: UK distributor for Shunyata Research

O d'A no.63, Absolare Integrated Signature, totaldac d1 server with additional external power supply, totaldac d1-six, Wilson Audio Sasha 2, Transparent Ref XL digital cables, Transparent XL Gen 5 speaker cables, Ansuz Diamond Darkz, Shunyata mains cable prototypes, Shunyata Denali D6000/S, Shunyata Venom RCA, Audioquest Diamond Ethernet, Various Entreq ground boxes and cables, Paul Pang Audiophile switch w/ MCRU LPS,  sonicTransporter w/ 1TB SSD & MCRU LPS
UK
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#7
(30-Aug-2014, 12:34)GuillaumeB Wrote: As the name of the title suggests I've created a new thread to specifically focus on a very unscientific comparison taking place this afternoon between AIR, the Moon MiND 180 (which I've owned for a year or so), the Auralic ARIES and the totaldac d1-server.

Unfortunately it won't be possible to include a windows computer in the mix. I will however try streaming from my Macbook Air (13-inch, Mid 2013) using plain vanilla iTunes in Bit Perfect mode and AIR. Given a number of comments made in the forum I won't be trying J River on the Mac.

We won't do any blind testing since I find it intensely unpleasant and struggle to compare music anyway when it's done in short bursts. We intend to have a fun afternoon. Tongue

We'll be using a Chord Power Chord lead with the three streamers as well as using an Entreq Apollo RCA eartha cable which will connect each streamer to a Silver Tellus ground box. We will try a few tracks first without the Entreq ground cable and then with. There are some limitations to this test since it takes a good 20 minutes for Entreq to kick in, and at least a couple of hours to get most of the benefit.... and we obviously have a lot of boxes to test. Undecided

Ethernet cables used will be the excellent AQ Diamond at both NAS end and streamer end. We will also experiment with the totaldac ethernet cable if don't run out of time.

Kick-off is at 2pm GMT. Big Grin

Guillaume

Hi Guillaume - what a great way to spend a wet, dreary Saturday! I'm very much looking forward to your views on this comparison. I'm still waiting to receive an Aries to demo so would be keen to see how this stacks up. Unfortunately, the totladac is out of my price range, but I'm hoping it's at least on a par with the others.

Have fun and report back!

ATB, Ken
Devialet 200 > Nordost Purple Flare > Linn Akurate 242
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#8
Well what an interesting afternoon this has been... and exhausting!

So just to reiterate the setup, we compared the following in the following running order:

1) Macbook AIR (13-inch, Mid 2013, OS X 10.9.4) running iTunes (11.3.1) in bit perfect mode and AIR (2.1.2) > wifi > Draytek router > AQ Carbon cat 7 > Cisco switch >AQ Diamond ethernet > Devialet master

2) Macbook AIR running Audirvana + (1.5.12) and AIR (2.1.2) > wifi > Draytek router > AQ Carbon cat 7 > Cisco switch >AQ Diamond ethernet > Devialet master

3) QNAP 419 (running Minimserver) > AQ Diamond ethernet > Draytek router > AQ Carbon cat 7 > Cisco switch > AQ Diamond ethernet > Moon MiND 180 > Transparent XL AES/EBU > Devialet master

4) QNAP 419 (running Minimserver) > AQ Diamond ethernet > Draytek router > AQ Carbon cat 7 > Cisco switch > AQ Diamond ethernet > Auralic ARIES > Transparent XL AES/EBU > Devialet master

5) QNAP 419 > AQ Diamond ethernet > Draytek router > AQ Carbon cat 7 > Cisco switch > AQ Diamond ethernet > totaldac d1 server > Transparent XL AES/EBU > Devialet master

We used a Chord Power Chord mains cable (which I already had) to power the Auralic ARIES and totaldac d1 server external power supplies.

The first reference track was track 1 from the following album:

   

It's a superb live Jazz performance featuring the great jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal, there's a fantastic live atmosphere as you can hear the audience cheering and the session kicks off with a great drum roll/kick drum. It's a very good 24bit recording with great dynamic range and lots going on: percussion, piano, brass...

1) "vanilla" AIR sounded really good to my ears... lots of detail and atmosphere... quite bright and instant...

2) A+/AIR to me sounded very similar to 1), perhaps a bit more of a forward presentation. I think I preferred it to 1).

3) the MiND was a big surprise since I hadn't expected it to sound this good! I suppose I had kinda gone off it after discovering AIR. It seemed very musical and involving but with less of the brightness and urgency of 1) and 2). You could say it had less of the top end. But overall a very refined sound.

4) the ARIES was a big disappointment. It sounded like really good hi-fi and there was no excitement/wow factor. It seemed to tick all the boxes sound-wise but just didn't draw me in.

5) the totaldac d1 server just blew me away. It was in a completely different league. In just about every parameter it was better than the other options. Stunning.

I'll let Rufus expand on some of these points, we didn't agree on all the details as you'd expect.

More detail to follow later! Big Grin

Guillaume
Industry disclosure: UK distributor for Shunyata Research

O d'A no.63, Absolare Integrated Signature, totaldac d1 server with additional external power supply, totaldac d1-six, Wilson Audio Sasha 2, Transparent Ref XL digital cables, Transparent XL Gen 5 speaker cables, Ansuz Diamond Darkz, Shunyata mains cable prototypes, Shunyata Denali D6000/S, Shunyata Venom RCA, Audioquest Diamond Ethernet, Various Entreq ground boxes and cables, Paul Pang Audiophile switch w/ MCRU LPS,  sonicTransporter w/ 1TB SSD & MCRU LPS
UK
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#9
OK! This is totally subjective. Music was quite varied, mainly Guillaume's (I tend to listen to loads of old rubbish!) - the sound quality of Guillaume's albums is mainly a lot better than mine! I see Guillaume's posted before me to so I might repeat a few things.
His system consists of the following: Devialet 800, Wilson Audio Sasha 2, Transparent XL digital cables, Chord Sarum speaker cable, Entreq Atlantis power cables, Audioquest Diamond Ethernet cables, Entreq Silver Tellus with Apollo ground cables. We also had an Entreq Atlantis Tellus on the second spur - Guillaume has one Devialet per power spur.

Started off with some jazz (Ahmad Jamal featuring Yusef Lateef Live At The Olympia 2012). This is a fabulous sounding jazz album.
I'll be concise here and put down my thoughts on each playback method:

AIR/iTunes in Bit Perfect mode over ethernet - I have to admit I was surprised how good this was in comparison to my tests. Very detailed. Downside was rather 2D presentation and quite harsh.

AIR/Audivarna Plus in BP mode over ethernet. This was better but I didn't find the difference so profound as in my system. Still a bit on the bright side but better depth. AV+ seems to do something a bit odd and I find dominant instruments tend to overwhelm quieter ones a bit. It's very enjoyable though and rather more realistic.

Simaudio Moon MiND 180D into Devialet via Transparent Reference XL AES digital cable. We both own MiNDs and have done for nearly a year. I was expecting to be a tiny bit disappointed as I've moved over to jRiver/AIR personally and am enjoying that, but it was actually a bit of a revelation again! It's very musical and involving. I find it's quite close to my old Linn Klimax DS in that it'd probably pass 'tune-dem' with flying colours. It's lacking in detail a tiny bit compared with the AIR route and is also quiter in the top end. This is a good thing with Devialet and it was nice to lose that AIR harshness. I have to admit the MiND in my system is a bit too lacking in top end but tonally it was well-balanced with Guillaume's system. There's air around the instruments and a lovely depth. Oh, the MiND also benefitted mightily from the Entreq grounding.

Auralic Aries (with the better power supply) and TA Ref XL AES cable again. First impressions - wow! Big soundstage, depth, easiest to place instruments in the stereo image so far. I think I probably said out loud 'this is the best so far'. We listened to a few tracks. And then something started to nag. I found myself losing interest. It's a little bit dull and uninvolving. I can't put my finger on it but it does almost seem as if everything's compressed to the same level dynamically. I did almost start to wonder if it was actually transcoding to a lesser format? Will have to double check. It's a bit 'hi-fi'... Don't forget this unit is not very well run-in and there's plenty of scope for improvement. Also don't forget Auralic are probably going to be pretty pro-active in releasing updates, some of which could improve sound quality. It's a tricky one but on current form, I'm leaning towards the MiND. The Aries also barely had any improvement through the Entreq grounding - no idea why. Could be related to the plastic casing?

totaldac-d1 server - again with TA Ref XL AES into the Devialet. Guillaume also has a totaldac ethernet cable (which is a thing of wonder) and the USB filter. How does it sound? Well, it's on a different level altogether (and it should be for the price!). So musical, tonally wonderful, we'd got a really focused soundstage back which was missing a bit with previous means. I almost can't describe it fully but this was the real deal from an musical enjoyment perspective. It reminded me of the system I heard when I auditioned my speakers last year, the dealer had a full Vivaldi stack and my jaw just dropped to the floor - it was like nothing I'd heard. Well this was like that! Wonderful instrument placement, timbre, ambience - just brilliant. I slightly preferred the totaldac with Entreq grounding but it was very subtle, and probably close to the realms of imagination.

We then skipped back and forwards trying a few different players again, mainly the Aries. I have to admit nothing really changed my mind that much. it's technically impressive but somehow a bit uninvolving to my ears. It deserves time to bed in though and could improve considerably. It's an impressively packaged bit of kit though and the control point is really nice. As is the totaldac's (the opensource mpad). The actual finish on the case isn't super-perfect but that's no biggie.
Devialet 200, Melco N1A, Rega RP6/Exact, Raidho C-1.1, grounding boxes.
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#10
Oh, I think we agreed on most things to be honest! I was a little surprised with Audivarna. I felt the difference between it and iTunes over AIR is more significant in my system. It's a very strong option but such a faff to use, hence I'm sticking with jRiver which isn't perhaps quite so good but more neutral. I still can't shake off that totaldac d1-server though - best I've heard with Devialet. I dread to think what their actual DACs sound like.
Devialet 200, Melco N1A, Rega RP6/Exact, Raidho C-1.1, grounding boxes.
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