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A Confused streaming system - Mutec / SOtM Ultra
A quiet rainy Saturday morning, so I have spent a couple of hours re-doing the AIR versus Mutec back to back test.  Very interesting today.  The first observation is just how much more stable AIR is now.  When I first had the REF10 and SOtM kit, so back in the spring, I tried a back to back test with AIR, and it was a little problematic.  Sometimes you could switch between the Mutec and AIR, but sometimes AIR would get confused, not work, and require the amps to be shut down to resume proceedings.  Today, I was running Roon AIR as one zone, and the microRendu Mutec as a second zone, I could switch between AIR and the Mutec via the remote app at will, whatever I selected would play without issue.  Indeed, I had the remote app on my iPhone to facilitate switching between AIR and the Mutec, as well as to check on the volume, and this was 100% stable too.  Little things, but it does indicate that Devialet have been quietly making progress over the last few months.  

So to the listening.  Today, I have no doubt that the mR/MC3+USB/REF10 combo is a step up from AIR.  In my head, I know exactly why and exactly how it sounds better, it is difficult to put into words though.  The best way I can describe it is that it is a step away from music produced by a digital audio system and one step towards the actual music.  So when listening very intently via AIR, you are aware of those little things that niggle sometimes with reproduced music, with the mR/Mutec you start to notice magic in voices, ambiance within the music.  So the stuff that might induce listener fatigue is diminished, it sounds more organic, less digital, more like real instruments producing music, choose your description.  I do not think I have actually managed to fully describe how all this manifests as sound in my head, but I am sure you get the general idea.

So subjectively, the mR/Mutec combo is the one that would keep me happy and keep me listening the longest.  I can give some more objective thoughts.  I tried playing with SAM.  Before the I had more or less settled on SAM at 40%, go beyond this and you might get a bit more bass and punch on some tracks, but it can start to sound a bit bloated, and back to 40% SAM will go.  Today switching between AIR and the Mutec, I noticed that bass was a touch cleaner, more distinct and defined.  So I tried running SAM at 80%, this indeed provided more bass punch and sounded superb, switching to AIR, just a touch bloated, SAM is too high.  I played around with this for a while this morning and the conclusion is that bass accuracy is a level up with the REF10.  Consider that SAM at 40% was my established limit with the mR and MC3+USB, and it remains so if I try AIR now, but with the REF10 80% sounded splendid.  OK, lots of talk about bass, but I mention bass because it is the most objective thing I established this morning.  The bigger gain is with the stuff that I cannot really describe fully in words, but to be clear, in the pursuit of small incremental gains, a small gain has been obtained, but this particular small gain I think will massively increase my enjoyment of the system.  It is a small gain that will draw you into the music more, and let you forget about the 1' and 0's flying around.  For me, that is a very good result.

So back to @sam1000 question "Hypothetically, if AIR is 80, Mutec with Pasternack is 85-87, where would you place Mutec with Habst?".  That is a tricky one to answer, but with AIR at 80, I would put Mutec Pasternack at 84 and Mutec Habst at 90.  That still doesn't relay my true thoughts on the matter, but it might give you an idea.

I can repeat my earlier thoughts that this is the best my system has ever sounded.  Curious, when you consider that my SOtM kit is still in Korea.  Thinking about this, my current system does make some kind of objective sense.  I have a noisy high powered PC doing the Roon and HQPlayer grunt work, this then feeds the mR via Ethernet, hence isolating the PC from the delicate audio stuff.  The mR is a simple purpose-built bit of audio kit designed to take an Ethernet feed and turn it into a USB protocol feed without losing any bits.  The mR has clean power, and the USB feed gets buffered, very accurately clocked and sent to the Devialet at it's preferred 24/192 rate.  How can you improve on that?  It certainly seems to work, but I guess noise can be reduced, maybe USB eye patterns improved, who knows.  Anyway, yesterday SOtM were in touch, my sMS-200Ultra has now had it's Neo upgrade and both this and the tX-USBUltra have now been fitted with 20cm internal clock cables.  They are now parceled up and waiting for DHL to pick them up on Monday.  Will the Neo update nudge the sMS-200Ultra into being something I grow to love?  Time will tell, but based on today's listening I am starting to wonder.  Lets put it this way, with the system sounding like it does now I just want to sit down and listen to some more music.

I shall sign off with some questions for @zzzap above.  An I right in saying that you run an Od'A?  Do you also have a REF10?  I am curious as to why you are interested in the Habst and how you are running your Od'A currently?
1000 Pro - KEF Blade - microRendu - Mutec MC3+USB - Pro-Ject Signature 12
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Thanks Confused for the great write-up and answering my question. This confirms my hunch that REF10 without Habst will not give you optimal performance and should be included in the cost when buying REF10.
I'm already in touch with Daniel from Habst. The CA group buy program has already expired, so I'll not get the discount but, I'll be saving on VAT since I'm on the other side of the pond. Enjoy your music.
Pioneer S1-EX; Synology NAS/Roon->1000pro (AIR) ,
Oppo 203->HDMI->Marantz 8802A->Pre-out->1000pro (Bypass), 
Shunyata Denali 6000T
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Well, I appreciate all the detailed posts Brian (Confused) contributes here and I am sure many readers benefit from his prose. It seems to me that his common denominator is his Kef Blades and would be whatever make/model of speaker he might use in his system. Therefore, unless a Kef Blade user, probably no-one can draw any conclusions from what Brian generously contributes in the spade fulls that he does, and in acknowledgement, bravo for that!

Purely from a personal perspective, I am not convinced by Kef Blades. I do not hold them in the high esteem others seem to. In fact, I persist with my home built World Audio Design KLS3 Mk2 with tweeter upgrade to Seas Millennium. I don’t use any fancy digital cables and use roon plugged directly into my D250 with nothing between the modem and the amp apart from my sonicTransporter and a digital switch unit. With this uncomplicated system, I personally make similar listening observations Brian does with his system. I remain doubtful I could improve the sound. To me, accepting the limitations of reproduction of musical sound in ones personal listening room, it can’t get a lot better. I know the weaknesses of my system. I would benefit by going infinite baffle on my speakers, but the necessary addition to cabinet volume would make that domestically unacceptable.

Having talked with Mathieu Pernot on the design and performance of Devialet amplifiers, I was much struck by his comment that they have been designed to give the ultimate performance capable. Personally I am happy to live with that, feeding speakers I trust and believe in.

Please understand. This is no disrespect to Brian. It is my way, just another way. I readily accept that my way will not meet the needs of others.
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I'm a still very skeptical about digital/power/speaker cables, but have been pleasantly surprised a few times. Now, at least I listen to others feedback, try them out and ship it back if I don't think the improvements are commensurate with the cost. I understand that we all have different Speakers/Rooms/Electronics and we all hear very differently. Having said that, its a hobby and we learn from each other, otherwise there wouldn't be any audio forums :-) In that regards, I really appreciate contributions from Confused and others on this forum. But, your point is well taken Greg.
Pioneer S1-EX; Synology NAS/Roon->1000pro (AIR) ,
Oppo 203->HDMI->Marantz 8802A->Pre-out->1000pro (Bypass), 
Shunyata Denali 6000T
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Something else! Rolleyes

"MUTEC timing at the Burning Beach Festival"

Rich bass and clear sound without digital hardship: The Burning Beach Festival 2018 with MUTEC timing and REALHORNS SOUNDSYSTEMS. The PA system uses several MC-3 + USB reclockers and a REF 10 clock generator.

https://www.hifistatement.net/news/item/...rettyPhoto


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Devialet 220Pro-CI, B&W 802 D3, (Focal Sopra 3), Linn Klimax DS/Katalyst, Burmester 089 CD, Melco N1ZS/2A + D100, Cable Audioquest (NRG-10,Diamond,K2,Yukon,Coffee etc.), iPad-Pro, KECES P8 Dual, Tidal HiFi
IsoTek: 2 x EVO3 Genesis One, EVO3 Titan One, EVO3 Syncro.                                                                                                                                                                Germany / Bavaria
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@K4680 - Why did you post that here! Huh  I hope you are not suggesting that this is what my hifi rack looks like???  Although as it happens, there is some resemblance, including the settings on the first MC3+USB. Confused  Anyway, it was a very interesting article - thanks for the link!  I think I would have enjoyed the gig. Shy

Anyway, I was not planning any updates to this thread until my "Neo'd" sMS-200Ultra is back from Korea, but while I am at it I thought I would add something to @Greg 's post above.  (Although one update re the Neo, today I was stung by £26 "importation charges", it all adds up!)
 
First to say that obviously I do not agree with Greg about the Blades, I auditioned very many speakers before buying the Blades, and if they were not the speakers I liked best, I would not have bought them.  I do know of others that don't like the Blades, and I know some that do.  It is one thing that interests me on this forum, we all have Devialet amps (except maybe the Phantom guys), and many chose Devialet for the sound quality performance.  Not all I guess, for some it would be features or product form, but I am sure that sound quality performance was a criteria for many.  Then, we all go off and run our Devialet's with different speakers, in fact, I am quite amased that with a few exceptions, we all seam have different speakers.  So speakers seam to be a very personal choice, and along with the room influence sound mare that anything else I think.  Curiously, I did attend a demo of the Blades once, this was in a big room with a Moon electronics, and I thought the Blades sounded poor.  Many factors here.

Greg stated " It seems to me that his common denominator is his Kef Blades and would be whatever make/model of speaker he might use in his system. Therefore, unless a Kef Blade user, probably no-one can draw any conclusions from what Brian generously contributes in the spade fulls that he does, and in acknowledgement, bravo for that!"

This I actually agree with, in terms of the conclusion.  I maybe see some things slightly differently, firstly, I see the Devialet and AIR as being a common denominator, so it is for this reason that I sometimes post comparisons with AIR.  This is something many of us can relate to as a kind of bench mark.  But in terms of drawing conclusions from what I write, I agree, conclusions should not be reached, I would consider what is written as just one "data point".  So for example, I have stated that the mR/MC3+USB sounds similar to AIR with the Pro, that is just my view, but if two or three people post similar comments, then it becomes slightly more compelling, but still not definitive in any way.  In fact, this thread should serve as a cautionary tail warning against drawing such conclusions.  In the very first post of this thread I referred to the many good reports that I had read regarding the sMS-200Ultra, then many of the subsequent posts refer to why I did not like it, that is in my system, with my speakers, room and ears.  In fact, I think different rooms / speakers are only part of the issues, in the same way we all seam to have preference to different speakers, I suspect that we all hear differently and react to sounds in different ways.  This is of course speculation, I have very little idea what is going on in my brain, let alone anyone else's!  But the fact that we all seam to like different speakers (and some folk like valve amps) suggests to me that something different is going on in terms of what we like to listen to.  So I think our ears and personal preference are a bigger factor, and indeed the reason will all like different speakers in the first place.

As for Gregs's more simple approach to his system, many of the posts in this thread back that idea up too.  As I have posted here, the he one thing I am finding with the Pro is that it is very difficult to substantially improve on simply using AIR.  Don't think that just spending cash on something to plug into your amp will necessarily afford an improvement.

So what is the point of it all?  One thing I find is that this thread is useful to me as a reference.  Sometimes I check back on what I had written at various stages, it is very useful to me.  So it is worth me writing it even if nobody reads it!  Although I hope some find it interesting as a bit of light reading, and I hope some have picked up that my experiences with the SOtM kit serve as a cautionary tail regarding drawing conclusions from what others post on line.  That said, I love the REF10, and I would not have bought that if it was not for the many positive reports over on CA.  There are many ways to look at this one, but overall I have found that the sharing of ideas and experiences is a huge benefit to quest of getting the sound you want, far more use than magazine reviews and many other things.
1000 Pro - KEF Blade - microRendu - Mutec MC3+USB - Pro-Ject Signature 12
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(Yesterday, 17:57)Confused Wrote: @K4680 - Why did you post that here! Huh  I hope you are not suggesting that this is what my hifi rack looks like???  Although as it happens, there is some resemblance, including the settings on the first MC3+USB. Confused  Anyway, it was a very interesting article - thanks for the link!  I think I would have enjoyed the gig. Shy

Anyway, I was not planning any updates to this thread until my "Neo'd" sMS-200Ultra is back from Korea, but while I am at it I thought I would add something to @Greg 's post above.  (Although one update re the Neo, today I was stung by £26 "importation charges", it all adds up!)
 
First to say that obviously I do not agree with Greg about the Blades, I auditioned very many speakers before buying the Blades, and if they were not the speakers I liked best, I would not have bought them.  I do know of others that don't like the Blades, and I know some that do.  It is one thing that interests me on this forum, we all have Devialet amps (except maybe the Phantom guys), and many chose Devialet for the sound quality performance.  Not all I guess, for some it would be features or product form, but I am sure that sound quality performance was a criteria for many.  Then, we all go off and run our Devialet's with different speakers, in fact, I am quite amased that with a few exceptions, we all seam have different speakers.  So speakers seam to be a very personal choice, and along with the room influence sound mare that anything else I think.  Curiously, I did attend a demo of the Blades once, this was in a big room with a Moon electronics, and I thought the Blades sounded poor.  Many factors here.

Greg stated " It seems to me that his common denominator is his Kef Blades and would be whatever make/model of speaker he might use in his system. Therefore, unless a Kef Blade user, probably no-one can draw any conclusions from what Brian generously contributes in the spade fulls that he does, and in acknowledgement, bravo for that!"

This I actually agree with, in terms of the conclusion.  I maybe see some things slightly differently, firstly, I see the Devialet and AIR as being a common denominator, so it is for this reason that I sometimes post comparisons with AIR.  This is something many of us can relate to as a kind of bench mark.  But in terms of drawing conclusions from what I write, I agree, conclusions should not be reached, I would consider what is written as just one "data point".  So for example, I have stated that the mR/MC3+USB sounds similar to AIR with the Pro, that is just my view, but if two or three people post similar comments, then it becomes slightly more compelling, but still not definitive in any way.  In fact, this thread should serve as a cautionary tail warning against drawing such conclusions.  In the very first post of this thread I referred to the many good reports that I had read regarding the sMS-200Ultra, then many of the subsequent posts refer to why I did not like it, that is in my system, with my speakers, room and ears.  In fact, I think different rooms / speakers are only part of the issues, in the same way we all seam to have preference to different speakers, I suspect that we all hear differently and react to sounds in different ways.  This is of course speculation, I have very little idea what is going on in my brain, let alone anyone else's!  But the fact that we all seam to like different speakers (and some folk like valve amps) suggests to me that something different is going on in terms of what we like to listen to.  So I think our ears and personal preference are a bigger factor, and indeed the reason will all like different speakers in the first place.

As for Gregs's more simple approach to his system, many of the posts in this thread back that idea up too.  As I have posted here, the he one thing I am finding with the Pro is that it is very difficult to substantially improve on simply using AIR.  Don't think that just spending cash on something to plug into your amp will necessarily afford an improvement.

So what is the point of it all?  One thing I find is that this thread is useful to me as a reference.  Sometimes I check back on what I had written at various stages, it is very useful to me.  So it is worth me writing it even if nobody reads it!  Although I hope some find it interesting as a bit of light reading, and I hope some have picked up that my experiences with the SOtM kit serve as a cautionary tail regarding drawing conclusions from what others post on line.  That said, I love the REF10, and I would not have bought that if it was not for the many positive reports over on CA.  There are many ways to look at this one, but overall I have found that the sharing of ideas and experiences is a huge benefit to quest of getting the sound you want, far more use than magazine reviews and many other things.

@Confused - I think you are interested in something like that! Not necessarily, high-end! Wink
Devialet 220Pro-CI, B&W 802 D3, (Focal Sopra 3), Linn Klimax DS/Katalyst, Burmester 089 CD, Melco N1ZS/2A + D100, Cable Audioquest (NRG-10,Diamond,K2,Yukon,Coffee etc.), iPad-Pro, KECES P8 Dual, Tidal HiFi
IsoTek: 2 x EVO3 Genesis One, EVO3 Titan One, EVO3 Syncro.                                                                                                                                                                Germany / Bavaria
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