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A Confused streaming system - Mutec / SOtM Ultra
#1
After very much deliberation and consideration of the options, I have been busy shopping this week.  I have many things on order, now awaiting delivery:

Mutec REF10
SOtM sMS-200Ultra with Clock mod
SOtM tX-USBultra with Clock mod
SOtM sPS-500
SOtM modified Ethernet Switch
SOtM 'Y' Cable
RG216 clock cables, various lengths

To be honest, I am a little surprised at myself for going with this option!  The Mutec REF10 was actually quite an easy decision, I have been very happy with the benefits to sound quality that the Mutec MC3+USB has brought to both the D800 and 1000Pro, so adding the REF10 should simply offer more of this goodness.  I certainly hope it does, because it is not cheap, but it has been out for a while now and pretty much anyone who has tried one has reported positive results, including those that are using with a Devialet.

So, once the relatively easy decision to buy a REF10 was made, this lead to the question of what to replace the microRendu with.  There is nothing wrong with the microRendu, but I know the MC3+USB is transparent to whatever feeds it, and I had to conclude that a REF10 / MC3+USB combination could benefit from something better.  Narrowing down the options was also easy, I wanted an 'End Point' type solution rather than a 'music server', without going into all the reasons, this suits me perfectly.  Also, I wanted something that was compatible with HQPlayer.  Essentially this leaves products from three manufacturers, Sonore, SOtM and Antipodes.  The Antipodes Edge was tempting, as this offers a 'USB free' solution as it can output coax S/PDIF.  The ultraRendu was tempting also, I have been more than happy with the microRendu, good SQ and rock solid stable software, so why not simply get the more recent improved version?  Then we have the SOtM options.  The sMS-200Ultra is gaining a fine reputation, and from what I have read on the 'net is probably the best you can get for the money.  I was though very puzzled by the tX-USBultra.  The sMS-200Ultra is basically a device that turns Ethernet packet data into a USB feed, and so if it is so good at doing this, why does it then need another device to 'improve' the USB signal further.  Seems bonkers to me!  Anyway, this is something I have been looking into for a while, and what I have found is that it is probably better to consider the tX-USBultra as SOtM's 'jewel in the crown'.  Based on the observations from others, including a few using one to feed a MC3+USB, putting the tX-USBultra in the chain produces useful improvements.  Some people are using tX-USBultra's after £6k music servers and claiming big improvements.  Bonkers maybe, but it does seem to work.  Another bonkers thing about the SOtM kit is that good results are reported from many users adding high-quality external clocks.  OK, there is nothing wrong with a having a good clock, low phase noise and all this good stuff, but this is asynchronous USB, so the device being fed USB is ultimately in control of clocking duties, there is no definitive technical explanation as to why these 'clock chains' should work.  (although there are some theories)  And don't get me started on adding a reference clock to an Ethernet switch, which is basically dealing with packet data.

Anyway, my conclusion was that the SOtM kit did offer all the functionality that I was after and despite my many reservations would probably offer the best sound quality.  That said, I was still tempted to just get the REF10 and an ultraRendu and sit back and wait to see what SOtM might bring to the market next.

What ultimately happened was that I started making some enquiries as the cost of the SOtM kit with the clock mods etc. and was offered a very tempting deal for the SOtM kit as a package.  After a day mulling this one over I decided it was too tempting and placed the order.  It might just be worth the cost of admission just to try out this clock chaining stuff myself.

Another positive to this solution is that it is very modular, so a big spend today, but in the future it is unlikely that I will need to do a full change out of this kit.  So if something significantly better than the MC3+USB appears, I can change just that item, and the same is true for all other components in the system.

I have started a new thread for this because what I am doing does not fully fit in any of the existing Mutec or SOtM threads, plus if I am honest I think this might be an interesting adventure and a dedicated thread is a useful reference and a good way to document any findings.

One last thought, I did manage to get someone to do some blind listening of Roon AIR versus the microRendu / Mutec.  In summary, this was a case of running through a play list twice and then asking which was best, A or B.  We did this, my blind tester concluded that there was not much in it, but asked to listen to one track again via both methods.  After this, the conclusion was 'not much in it but if I had to choose I would go with B'.  B was the mR Mutec.  To put this into context, my blind tester is not an 'audiophile' but does have a passing interest in hifi, and all I can say is that you have tried blind testing yourself to know just how incredibly hard it is, listen sighted and the subtle differences between A and B can be clearly descerned, do it blind and the differences magically vanish.  So I guess my target here is to get enough of an SQ improvement that I can drag my blind tester back, and the only just discerned differences with the mR/ Mutec turn into 'yes, A is clearly better' with the SOtM kit, otherwise it's £6k down the drain!  Sad

Wish me luck! Shy
1000 Pro - KEF Blade - SOtM sMS-200Ultra Neo - tX-USBultra - Mutec REF10 - MC3+USB - Pro-Ject Signature 12
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#2
Wishing you luck as requested  Big Grin, not that you'll be needing it. 

Good you started a new thread (as you and I also seem to exchange posts on CA, too). You will have a very similar system to mine concerning electronics. Also, you'll have the tx-USB ultra that I don't have. That device also puzzles me, so I wasn't sure it is worth the 1200 euros or so, plus another 300-400 euros on another USB cable. I think a second MC3+USB may bring more to the system. I don't know. But recently I had 3 MC3+USBs cascaded and that was mind-boggling. How and why that improves the sound when all fed from the same Ref 10, I have no idea.

I have experimented a bit with power supplies to the SMS-200 Ultra. My SPS-500 sounded a bit edgy compared to the PH SR3 that I am borrowing or the Uptone JS-2 that I have. The SPS-500 is still with the stock DC chord that came with it, I will be getting down to DIY-ing some better DC cables and see how it improves the sound. 

I also have a SOtM modded switch but I didn't notice much difference whether using it with its own SMPS or the JS-2. I feel that ethernet filtering and the LAN cable may have a larger effect. I have a few Acoustic Revive RLI-1s around but for the last week I have been trying and Fibre Media Converter (TP-LINK) which seems to be an even better solution. The drawback is the more cables and two extra power supplies, the second of which has to be good (iFi on the receiver side now). For some reason, getting the SMS-200 Ultra on the network with the optical converter is not always easy. Sometimes it just doesn't want to connect. I will try to find a solution on the CA forum, maybe a fixed IP address or something. 

I don't know what software you are using but IME HQPlayer/Roon combination gives the best SQ and usability. I upsample all PCM files to 192kHz in the server already and let the Mutec downsample the DSD files to PCM. The Devialet is always fed 192kHz.  

Anyway, it is too early now as you're still waiting for delivery of products but I would be most grateful if you tried the system with and w/o the tx-USB ultra and share your observation. Or anybody else here who has some experience with this. 

Zoltan
Win10/HQPlayer / Roon - SOtM modified D-link switch / SOtM-SMS-200 ultra with clock input - SOtM tx-USB ultra with clock input 
Mutec MC-3 USB, Mutec REF 10 
Devialet D800 - YG Acoustics Carmel - Dual Elac SUB-2090 
power supplies: Uptone JS-2, SOtM SPS-500
cables: Acrolink, Acoustic Revive, Curious USB, Vovox Ethernet. 'tweeks': optical network isolation, Shakti Stones and Halograph, Acoustic Revive RR-777, Zcable Sleeves, fo.Q vibration control, EMI absorbing sheets, Sonitus Acoustic Panels. 
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#3
Hi Confused,
I'm hearing good things about the latest Devialet beta software. Are you using that already for your comparison ? Seems it is only available via mail, not as download from Devialet. But I have heard there is a big improvement in SQ...
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#4
(10-Feb-2018, 15:14)Vivialet Wrote: Hi Confused,
I'm hearing good things about the latest Devialet beta software. Are you using that already for your comparison ? Seems it is only available via mail, not as download from Devialet. But I have heard there is a big improvement in SQ...

I have just switched to the latest beta 12.  The comparison mentioned above was done with beta 10 last Sunday.  I have not tried any comparisons with beta 12 yet, but initial impressions are that it does indeed sound good! Shy
1000 Pro - KEF Blade - SOtM sMS-200Ultra Neo - tX-USBultra - Mutec REF10 - MC3+USB - Pro-Ject Signature 12
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#5
(10-Feb-2018, 13:22)Confused Wrote: After very much deliberation and consideration of the options, I have been busy shopping this week.  I have many things on order, now awaiting delivery:

Mutec REF10
SOtM sMS-200Ultra with Clock mod
SOtM tX-USBultra with Clock mod
SOtM sPS-500
SOtM modified Ethernet Switch
RG216 clock cables, various lengths

To be honest, I am a little surprised at myself for going with this option!  The Mutec REF10 was actually quite an easy decision, I have been very happy with the benefits to sound quality that the Mutec MC3+USB has brought to both the D800 and 1000Pro, so adding the REF10 should simply offer more of this goodness.  I certainly hope it does, because it is not cheap, but it has been out for a while now and pretty much anyone who has tried one has reported positive results, including those that are using with a Devialet.

So, once the relatively easy decision to buy a REF10 was made, this lead to the question of what to replace the microRendu with.  There is nothing wrong with the microRendu, but I know the MC3+USB is transparent to whatever feeds it, and I had to conclude that a REF10 / MC3+USB combination could benefit from something better.  Narrowing down the options was also easy, I wanted an 'End Point' type solution rather than a 'music server', without going into all the reasons, this suits me perfectly.  Also, I wanted something that was compatible with HQPlayer.  Essentially this leaves products from three manufacturers, Sonore, SOtM and Antipodes.  The Antipodes Edge was tempting, as this offers a 'USB free' solution as it can output coax S/PDIF.  The ultraRendu was tempting also, I have been more than happy with the microRendu, good SQ and rock solid stable software, so why not simply get the more recent improved version?  Then we have the SOtM options.  The sMS-200Ultra is gaining a fine reputation, and from what I have read on the 'net is probably the best you can get for the money.  I was though very puzzled by the tX-USBultra.  The sMS-200Ultra is basically a device that turns Ethernet packet data into a USB feed, and so if it is so good at doing this, why does it then need another device to 'improve' the USB signal further.  Seems bonkers to me!  Anyway, this is something I have been looking into for a while, and what I have found is that it is probably better to consider the tX-USBultra as SOtM's 'jewel in the crown'.  Based on the observations from others, including a few using one to feed a MC3+USB, putting the tX-USBultra in the chain produces useful improvements.  Some people are using tX-USBultra's after £6k music servers and claiming big improvements.  Bonkers maybe, but it does seem to work.  Another bonkers thing about the SOtM kit is that good results are reported from many users adding high-quality external clocks.  OK, there is nothing wrong with a having a good clock, low phase noise and all this good stuff, but this is asynchronous USB, so the device being fed USB is ultimately in control of clocking duties, there is no definitive technical explanation as to why these 'clock chains' should work.  (although there are some theories)  And don't get me started on adding a reference clock to an Ethernet switch, which is basically dealing with packet data.

Anyway, my conclusion was that the SOtM kit did offer all the functionality that I was after and despite my many reservations would probably offer the best sound quality.  That said, I was still tempted to just get the REF10 and an ultraRendu and sit back and wait to see what SOtM might bring to the market next.

What ultimately happened was that I started making some enquiries as the cost of the SOtM kit with the clock mods etc. and was offered a very tempting deal for the SOtM kit as a package.  After a day mulling this one over I decided it was too tempting and placed the order.  It might just be worth the cost of admission just to try out this clock chaining stuff myself.

Another positive to this solution is that it is very modular, so a big spend today, but in the future it is unlikely that I will need to do a full change out of this kit.  So if something significantly better than the MC3+USB appears, I can change just that item, and the same is true for all other components in the system.

I have started a new thread for this because what I am doing does not fully fit in any of the existing Mutec or SOtM threads, plus if I am honest I think this might be an interesting adventure and a dedicated thread is a useful reference and a good way to document any findings.

One last thought, I did manage to get someone to do some blind listening of Roon AIR versus the microRendu / Mutec.  In summary, this was a case of running through a play list twice and then asking which was best, A or B.  We did this, my blind tester concluded that there was not much in it, but asked to listen to one track again via both methods.  After this, the conclusion was 'not much in it but if I had to choose I would go with B'.  B was the mR Mutec.  To put this into context, my blind tester is not an 'audiophile' but does have a passing interest in hifi, and all I can say is that you have tried blind testing yourself to know just how incredibly hard it is, listen sighted and the subtle differences between A and B can be clearly descerned, do it blind and the differences magically vanish.  So I guess my target here is to get enough of an SQ improvement that I can drag my blind tester back, and the only just discerned differences with the mR/ Mutec turn into 'yes, A is clearly better' with the SOtM kit, otherwise it's £6k down the drain!  Sad

Wish me luck! Shy

Well... I keep my fingers crossed for the A option (it will mean that there is still a way up for me, taking into account the SQ - which sounds optimistic irrespectively of the results of your test). 

However, personaly I have SOtM sMS-200 (with dedicated power supply - which is definitely worth recommendation) and IMO if you would like to utylize USB connection, it's very difficult to beat. I assume that "Ultra" version is even better and if it is so, SOtM is no brainer.

My worm recommendation is to use the best possible USB interconnect (f.ex. Synergistic Research USB Active) and cut off the power section in USB wire (f.ex. Sbooster Vbus2 Isolator). USB transfer is very sensitive to those factors (plus a Q of power supply mentioned above). I had a chance to check it many times.

Good luck!! Smile
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#6
@zdenes I think my plan will be to set the whole lot up, all connected to the REF10. Once everything is settled in I think I will try removing clock feeds from the USB kit, try removing the tX-USBultra, and so on. It will be interesting to see what individual components add to the end result. As for power supplies, I do have the Uptone Audio LPS-1 to try on at least one of the SOtM items, although I am not sure if it will have enough current to supply the tX-USBultra, as this will also be providing the current feed to the Mutec MC3's USB input, something to try anyway. As it stands, I think I will use the LPS-1 on the Ethernet switch.


@"MIKE" I already have some cheap and cheerful AudioQuest Carbon USB cables, so no need to worry about this in the short term. The set-up I have described above requires two USB cables, one between the sMS-200 & tx-USB and one between the tx-USB and the Mutec MC3+USB, nothing like keeping it simple. In this set-up the Mutec MC3+USB input is isolated and takes it's power from the USB feed, so I will need USB power on at least one cable, although not on the other I think. Something for the future maybe.

I love the way that I still have two weeks to wait for this kit to turn up, and you guys are tweaking it already!
1000 Pro - KEF Blade - SOtM sMS-200Ultra Neo - tX-USBultra - Mutec REF10 - MC3+USB - Pro-Ject Signature 12
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#7
(10-Feb-2018, 16:36)Confused Wrote: @zdenes I think my plan will be to set the whole lot up, all connected to the REF10.  Once everything is settled in I think I will try removing clock feeds from the USB kit, try removing the tX-USBultra, and so on.  It will be interesting to see what individual components add to the end result.  As for power supplies, I do have the Uptone Audio LPS-1 to try on at least one of the SOtM items, although I am not sure if it will have enough current to supply the tX-USBultra, as this will also be providing the current feed to the Mutec MC3's USB input, something to try anyway.  As it stands, I think I will use the LPS-1 on the Ethernet switch.


@"MIKE" I already have some cheap and cheerful AudioQuest Carbon USB cables, so no need to worry about this in the short term.  The set-up I have described above requires two USB cables, one between the sMS-200 & tx-USB and one between the tx-USB and the Mutec MC3+USB, nothing like keeping it simple.  In this set-up the Mutec MC3+USB input is isolated and takes it's power from the USB feed, so I will need USB power on at least one cable, although not on the other I think.  Something for the future maybe.

I love the way that I still have two weeks to wait for this kit to turn up, and you guys are tweaking it already!

It seems me you are extremely busy in the coming days  Big Grin

I am not very familiar with those issues but as far as I know SOtM has specific electric demands - so be careful with connecting power supply.

As for the USB interconnects. I have AQ Carbon at home (probably the best option at its price level) but a month ago I got SynRes USB Active SE. The difference was (unexpectedly) huge = my wallet opened itself authomaticaly, making me crying like a child - it is almost 1kUSD in Poland. If you can, try... (but do not blame me afterwards)  Smile 

I cannot wait for your feelings and conclusions.
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#8
I have just measured the current requirement of SMS-200 Ultra. It is between 0.7-0.8A when booting and constant 0.73 when streaming using HQPlayer NAA. I suppose using other streaming software in the unit will not change this much but if you connect a USB drive to, it'll obviously jump much higher (unless the USB drive has its own power supply).
Win10/HQPlayer / Roon - SOtM modified D-link switch / SOtM-SMS-200 ultra with clock input - SOtM tx-USB ultra with clock input 
Mutec MC-3 USB, Mutec REF 10 
Devialet D800 - YG Acoustics Carmel - Dual Elac SUB-2090 
power supplies: Uptone JS-2, SOtM SPS-500
cables: Acrolink, Acoustic Revive, Curious USB, Vovox Ethernet. 'tweeks': optical network isolation, Shakti Stones and Halograph, Acoustic Revive RR-777, Zcable Sleeves, fo.Q vibration control, EMI absorbing sheets, Sonitus Acoustic Panels. 
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#9
Hi Confused,

I am looking toward a similar source setup of yours.
My Mutec setup is ready and it has made significant impact to the usb output from Melco (already good imo).
Good thing that it still pips in terms of realism and dimensional compare to uPnP playback after my recent CI upgrade.

I am still evaluating getting SOTM TX-USB Ultra with external clock to replace my UpTone Regen (ISO Regen has a detrimental result in my hifi system).

Hope to hear some findings from your side.  Rolleyes

Of course, I am also considering changing the Mutec MC3+ USB power supply to an external linear one. I remember someone getting improved results from some forums.
440 Pro, Acrolink 7N-DA2090 Digital cable, Plixir Elite BAC 3000 Power Conditioner, Diva Audio Power Cords
Melco N1ZH/2, Diva Audio Power Cords, Curious USB cable, Uptone Audio USB Regen, Plixir DC LPS, Booster Vbus2 Isolator, Curious USB Regen Link, Mutec MC-3+ USB, Acrolink 7N-DA2090 AES/EBU cable, Mutec REF 10, Habst Digital BNC
Vivid Giya G4, Diva Audio Speaker Cables
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#10
(10-Feb-2018, 18:27)Sharone Wrote: .....

Of course, I am also considering changing the Mutec MC3+ USB power supply to an external linear one. I remember someone getting improved results from some forums.

Yes, there have been a few reports of improvements gained by replacing the Mutec MC3+USB SMPS with a decent LPSU, indeed, this forum's @"SwissBear" has reported excellent results trying this with his Paul Hynes LPSU.  For balance here, I do recall one poster on 'Computer Audiophile' who tried this mod and then claimed that it made zero difference, so it is difficult to make definitive claims in this area.

I am tempted to try this mod I must admit, and I will have a 'spare' LPS-1, which I believe should be suitable.  I am also tempted to not bother, there have been some vague rumors of an 'Empyreal Class' version of the MC3+USB, which amongst other things would I presume include a LPSU similar to the REF10.  Rumours, yes, but I have seen no facts with respect to this, it does make sense though, if you look at the 'Empyreal Class' section of Mutec's website it only includes the REF10.  If Mutec have come up with a new class for there products, it seems unlikely that there will only ever be one product in this class.  Time will tell.
1000 Pro - KEF Blade - SOtM sMS-200Ultra Neo - tX-USBultra - Mutec REF10 - MC3+USB - Pro-Ject Signature 12
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