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A Confused streaming system - Mutec / SOtM Ultra
#21
The postman was very kind to me last week.  A moderate coincidence, but the Mutec REF10 ordered from Germany, and the SOtM kit, which is custom spec from Korea, all arrived within two hours of each other on Wednesday.

So yesterday I was busy connecting this stuff up.  The Mutec REF10 generates a square wave, rather than a normal sine wave.  Mutec claim this improves accuracy, but it does have the slight disadvantage that it makes cable length more critical, basically the shorter the cable the better.  I need three clock cables, for the Mutec MC3+USB, the sMS-200Ultra and tX-USBultra.  I bought RG216 cables custom made, 1 at 6" length, 2 at 12" length.  My idea was that I would use the super short 6" cable for the most critical link to the MC3+USB.  In practice, this did not quite work out.  The MC3+USB has a significantly shorter case compared to the REF10, so the 6" cable will only connect the two items if you more or less align the rear panels, if you position the units with the front panels aligned as you would expect them to be in the rack, the 6" is too short.  As things turned out, the 12" cable works fine between the REF10 and MC3+USB, and the 6"cable just about works between the REF10 and tX_USBultra, so at least I have bought cables suitable to get me going.

Some pictures to give you an idea as to how all this looks in practice.

   

   

   

Yesterday I decided to set the REF10 up with the MC3+USB, I just wanted to make sure the REF10 worked as it should with the MC3 and I understood at least this part of the system, I did not want to be messing with this at the same time as setting up the SOtM kit, with new streaming software and all the rest of it, as it turned out this was a good idea.

Apparently the REF10 need 14 days to fully settle down, but is supposed to work OK from cold after 30 minutes.  Mine has been plugged in and powered up since Thursday morning, so has had a couple of day's running.

Time for some listening.  I am sure that some regular readers of this forum will know that I normally like to test and audition kit before buying, I will do my research, but will then want to listen for myself, preferably back to back with as many alternatives as I can get hold of.  Once I am sure whats best, that is what will get my cash.  The REF10 is different, it was not possible to audition, the best option is to buy from the UK distributor Thomann (who are German).  They are a good company though, good communications, everything well packaged, and they offer a 30 day no quibbles refund.  Basically, I had bought the REF10 based on specification, reputation and the advice of a few people both on this forum and Computer Audiophile.  With respect to members of this forum, I had decided that if the REF10 turned out to be rubbish, both @SwissBear and @zdenes would be in big trouble!

So still using my microRendu feeding the MC3+USB, I sat down to listen though a familiar playlist of tracks.  First to say, SwissBear and zdenes have nothing to worry about, they are both right, the REF10 is superb in combination with the MC3+USB and the Devialet.  In fact, it was very good ineed.  OK, it is early days with this set-up, but I think I had a kind of mental sense of how I wanted, or hoped,  the SOtM / REF10 / MC3+USB would sound with the Devialet.  Listening to REF10 clocked MC3+USB with just the microRendu feeding it seemed to me to be already yielding the result I was hoping for with all the SOtM kit included.  It was quite superb, I guess you can get a little apprehensive that new kit might prove to be a little disappointing, it has happened to me in the past, but not his time.  With some sections of music everything was sounding just so good, so much better, that I genuinely got a little emotional.  What kind of improvements?  Pretty much everything, and that's over and above a level of performance that was already good.  Everything sounds so much more natural, more real, and is much easier to listen to.  I think my system already had a high level of detail, but somehow with none of that detail lost it turns into something just so much more natural and real.  A noticeable improvement in dynamics also, harder hitting bass, more detail in the bass.  Everything.

So far my day was going very well, then to the SOtM kit.......

I got everything connected up, loaded up SOtM's Eunhasu software, my PC and network correctly picked up the sMS-200Ultra, selected my desired playback mode, hit play, silence!  Something was wrong.  I messed about with a few things, nothing but frustration, the system did not work.  In order to eliminate possible issues, I took the tX-USBultra out of the chain and tried again, with success, now everything worked as it should.  So something wrong with the tXUSBultra?  I checked the connections, double checked the connections, there are little selector switches on the USB sockets, I checked these, but still could not get the thing to work.  A quick post on Computer Audiophile, ten minutes later someone replied, he had had the same issue.  The SOtM kit is available specified for different voltage inputs.  I doubt there is much in it, but the 12v versions are supposed to sound best.  I had bought a 'bundle' package of the sMS-200Ultra, tXUSBultra and sPS-500 power supply, all 12v.  The thing is though, the sPS-500 has a voltage selector, and mine was set to 9v.  Now that I know this, I feel a complete idiot for not checking this.  That said, I am happy to post my idiocy on-line, I made this mistake, some guy on CA did the same, if you are reading this and considering the SOtM bundle, I guess you will not repeat our stupidity.  Anyway, sPS-500 set to 12v, tried again, everything works!  Although this experience has left me a little puzzled as the why the sMS-200Ultra works with low voltage and the tX-USBultra does not, curious.

Anyway, that is as far as I got yesterday.  The SOtM kit is working away now as I type this, I have no idea if it needs 'burn in' time, but it's getting some anyway.  One thing I did not do yesterday was install the SOtM modified switch, so this is my next task today.  More later!

I shall sign off for now with some observations about the new kit.  The REF10 is everything I expected.  It is a little utilitarian looking, but it does have the look and feel of something very well built, it is quite heavy too.  The SOtM kit was a bit of a surprise, the units are smaller than I was expecting.  Also, they are a little bit cheap and cheerful with respect to build quality, although they are not that cheap to buy!  It is obviously a very basic case, the power switch / LED has a very flimsy feel to it, this kind of thing.  Is this a bad thing?  Maybe not, it is a fact that huge percentage of the manufacturing cost of hifi is in the cases, the fancier the case, the bigger the cost, I think with the SOtM kit a bigger proportion of the cost and expertise is going on the electronics inside, so you could say that if you value sound quality over flashy looking boxes on your rack, the SOtM approach is the right way to go.  I have an 80's Japanese amp lurking somewhere in the house, I might just cut the front panel off and glue it in front of the SOtM kit!
1000 Pro - KEF Blade - SOtM sMS-200Ultra Neo - tX-USBultra - Mutec REF10 - MC3+USB - Pro-Ject Signature 12
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#22
Hi Confused,

I was very happy to read your report and notice that you appreciate the contributions of the Mutec Ref-10 in your system Angel
I hope that you will continue to see improvements with the SOtM gears.

Congratulations renewed and my best wishes to you for a lot of enjoyment with this brand new setup Wink
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#23
Wink 
@Confused - Nice! Welcome to the club  Big Grin

I can see that your 3 power cords, one USB, and AES/EBU cable and the ethernet cables are not connected. This cable jungle is the only drawback of the system IMO but the SQ justifies it. 

Can I ask what software you are using on the SMS-200 Ultra? Also what is your AES/EBU cable and USB cables? 

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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#24
That is a how a proper spaghetti solution should look like @Confused  Big Grin   Wink
Main system
TAD D1000mk2, TAD M2500mk2, TAD CE-1, Ansuz Mainz 8D, Ansuz Darkz D-TC
Tidal Hifi -> Roon ROCK on NUC -> Netgear GS108 -> SOtM sMS-200ultra Neo -> USB -> SOtM tX-USBultra -> USB -> DAC
HD Plex PSU (4 rail for ISP fiber, router, switch and NUC), 2x Paul Hynes SR4 PSU (for sMS-200ultra and tX-USBultra)

Second system
Tidal Hifi -> Devialet Dialog, Devialet Silver Phantom, Devialet Tree
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#25
First to answer Zoltan's questions. Yes, many cables are missing in the picture. I had set everything up on a table simply to experiment with the different length clock cables. There is far more spaghetti now everything is up and running, but it is not too bad, you don't notice it when it is in the rack hidden behind many boxes. The USB and AES/EBU cables are all Audioquest Carbon, and I have been using Roon / HQPlayer.

Anyway, an update on the progress today, I posted this in CA earlier. Apologies to anyone who follows both forums, but no point me typing this twice:

I have to say that despite a few a few issues, yesterday was a good day. Adding the REF10 to the MC3+USB was all I had hoped for and more, I could not be more pleased with the improvement this has yielded. Anyway, after listening to the microRendu REF10 / MC3+USB yesterday, I did get the sMS-200Ultra, tXUSBultra and sPS-500 set up and working but did not have any time for any serious listening. I left everything powered up overnight, and this morning everything was working exactly as it should, playing background music for a couple of hours or so.

I have sat down for a more focused listen, running through the same playlist I used with the microRendu yesterday. A little inconclusive to be honest, yes everything sounds excellent, but whereas yesterday I was a little blown away by the improvement with just adding the REF10 to the MC3+USB, today I am not entirely convinced by the improvement of the SOtM kit versus the humble microRendu.

To be honest, I am probably overdoing the changes, listening and thinking! The change with the REF10 yesterday was revelationary, and I still had the happy thought that the improvement from the SOtM kit was still to come, so perhaps the psychology of all this is having an effect. Don't get me wrong, the rig sounds great with the SOtM kit in charge, I am just not sure of the hike over the mR in this set-up. I need some time to get used to this too, some stuff I head today was truly exceptional, but I suspect the SOtM kit may be a touch brighter than the mR, which is perhaps messing with my perception a little. Time now to let the kit settle in a bit, and let my brain settle in too. I can always do a mR versus SOtM bundle head to head another day.
1000 Pro - KEF Blade - SOtM sMS-200Ultra Neo - tX-USBultra - Mutec REF10 - MC3+USB - Pro-Ject Signature 12
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#26
Always very interesting reading your comments, and perceptions confused.
I like your honnesty very much.
I m very happy for you.
I followed your comments , and i know from memory that you ve wrote int he past that ROON/AIR was very good and comparable to mr+mc3, and sometimes so close that they are indistinguishable.i know it s too early to say, but roughly how much in % the ref10 brought to the sq?
Thks


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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#27
Have you considered trying a solution that does AES directly from ethernet something like dCS Network Bridge or Bricasti M5 and compare that to the current solution?

To me this multiple boxes can be a bit to much compared to having all in one box and all the cables and clocking working outside of the box, dont get me wrong but does it really need to be 5 boxes to get good sound from ethernet?

I am intrested in trying AES to my DAC and compare that to USB and a one box solution like dCS NB or Bricasti M5 is intresting to me were USB is left out from the chain.
Main system
TAD D1000mk2, TAD M2500mk2, TAD CE-1, Ansuz Mainz 8D, Ansuz Darkz D-TC
Tidal Hifi -> Roon ROCK on NUC -> Netgear GS108 -> SOtM sMS-200ultra Neo -> USB -> SOtM tX-USBultra -> USB -> DAC
HD Plex PSU (4 rail for ISP fiber, router, switch and NUC), 2x Paul Hynes SR4 PSU (for sMS-200ultra and tX-USBultra)

Second system
Tidal Hifi -> Devialet Dialog, Devialet Silver Phantom, Devialet Tree
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#28
(25-Feb-2018, 16:43)octaviars Wrote: Have you considered trying a solution that does AES directly from ethernet something like dCS Network Bridge or Bricasti M5 and compare that to the current solution?

To me this multiple boxes can be a bit to much compared to having all in one box and all the cables and clocking working outside of the box, dont get me wrong but does it really need to be 5 boxes to get good sound from ethernet?

I am intrested in trying AES to my DAC and compare that to USB and a one box solution like dCS NB or Bricasti M5 is intresting to me were USB is left out from the chain.

I did consider that, yes.  The problem is I wanted to retain the use of HQPlayer, so this left me with Sonore, SOtM and Antipodes as my options.  I could get hold of a Network Bridge to try if I really wanted to, maybe something to consider once the SOtM kit has settled in.  I have plenty to keep myself occupied in the short to medium term!
1000 Pro - KEF Blade - SOtM sMS-200Ultra Neo - tX-USBultra - Mutec REF10 - MC3+USB - Pro-Ject Signature 12
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#29
(25-Feb-2018, 15:49)Confused Wrote: First to answer Zoltan's questions.  Yes, many cables are missing in the picture.  I had set everything up on a table simply to experiment with the different length clock cables.  There is far more spaghetti now everything is up and running, but it is not too bad, you don't notice it when it is in the rack hidden behind many boxes.  The USB and AES/EBU cables are all Audioquest Carbon, and I have been using Roon / HQPlayer.
Thanks for the reply. So we have nearly identical setups regarding both hardware and software, and I know that it's not only the two of us here...

As far as the SQ of SOtM gear, some people say they need a week (24/7) to burn in. I can't comment on that as mine was a demo piece at the Munich show last year, so it was up and running for a while before I bought it. 

I bought the SPS-500 in the autumn and while it is a neat power supply with plenty of juice, I (and my audio buddies) all agreed that both my Uptone JS-2 and Paul Hynes SR3 were clearly better in SQ. I don't want to sell the SPS-500 for now as there just too many things around that need a DC power supply but if I wanted to power the SMS-200 Ultra from it, I would buy an Uptone LPS-1 or rather the new LPS 1.2 to go between them.  

If you have the opportunity at any time in the future to borrow a good quality LPS, you may hear an improvement too.

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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#30
(25-Feb-2018, 16:28)samsoum Wrote: Always very interesting reading your comments, and perceptions confused.
I like your honnesty very much.
I m very happy for you.
I followed your comments , and i know from memory that you ve wrote int he past that ROON/AIR was very good and comparable to mr+mc3, and sometimes so close that they are indistinguishable.i know it s too early to say, but roughly how much in % the ref10 brought to the sq?
Thks


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Yes, it is too early to say, I spent far more time last weekend messing around with kit than I did listening to it.  That said, the REF10 was one of those things that you put in your system and the improvement is obvious, so I have no doubt that the REF10 is providing an improvement.  I never really understand the concept of % improvement.  We would need to agree a scale, say where white noise is 0% and live sound 100%.  I notice on another thread that a magazine claims a 20% improvement from a speaker cable.  20% from a cable?  Although I have tried removing my speaker cables and got a 100% reduction in sound quality, so maybe it does make sense.

Much rambling....   My initial impression is that the REF10 provides a significant uplift in sound quality, it is early days, but I would say it is something similar to the Expert to Pro upgrade.
1000 Pro - KEF Blade - SOtM sMS-200Ultra Neo - tX-USBultra - Mutec REF10 - MC3+USB - Pro-Ject Signature 12
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