Living at the Extreme: I bought a Taiko Extreme and then this happened...

Skanda

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May 3, 2020
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What does the world's most Extreme music server do in a sound system?

I wanted to start this with a big shout out to Tom @ Thx Stereo for making this possible. Tom is the dealer who sold me my first pair of hifi speakers (some dynaudios) and we quickly became friends. Sounds cliche, but we regularly discuss audio and non audio stuff and I probably text with him more than I do with my gf lol. He asked me if I knew anything about Taiko Extreme. I told him I had heard about it on whatsbest and read a good portion of the thread. It seemed like an amazingly engineered product but $25k-$30k usd for a server is too much for my blood. I bought my rockna wavedream NET from him back in November and my rockna wavedream sig se from him a year before that. I am very happy with this digital front end (all my listening is digital - I'm on the younger side for this hobby: 29. I have been ripping mp3's since I was 7 years old. Vinyl is confusing, digital is simple :)). On the server side, I had been doing macbook/computer to dac via usb for years. Then I got roon and a metrum ambre to go with it. Woah. Not only super convenient but it sounded better. Then I got the wavedream NET and it was one of my few "night and day" audio experiences. Tom was urging me to give the extreme a try: "why not bro, life is short". Tom was eager to try an extreme himself so in the process of ordering one, he ordered one for me as well. I told him I didn't want to spend this kind of money on my rig at the moment and he said "don't worry about it - pay me later". Damn, not only is that generous but how could I refuse.

I paid him for it but he also mentioned that he's willing to take it back if I don't like it or feel that the system changes were not up to the $ spent. That's a very personal note so regardless of what I do at the end of all this, I acknowledge that others may find the system changes to be worth 2x, 3x, 100x more than the price of the Taiko. Different strokes for different folks. Different techniques for different freaks. In the spirit of honesty and transparency, I received an offer on my rockna over a dm. I have a hand shake agreement with the buyer for a sale in late september if I decide to keep the Taiko. The buyer is gracious in his understanding that this is an opportunity for a great audio experiment and, ideally, a type of review/experience report that the audio community does not get too often. I am not taking shots at dealers or reviewers but a true owner's experience has always served me well and hopefully I can give back to the community this way. I also wanted to do this differently than the standard review. I plan on giving regular updates of the good, bad, and ugly. We are used to reading reviews after a few months or a year of ownership so this is hopefully this method is an interesting, new perspective. Also, for many of us, buying an expensive piece often leads to a barbell system where not everything else is up to spec but the plan is to fix that down the line. On my end, I think my gear is up to snuff but not so much the cables and network optimization. Will the taiko clearly best the rockna with no optimization? What optimization is working well? How does the sound change over the first few weeks and months? Am I just experiencing something different or is this truly better? These are all questions I have and hope to answer. This is a bit like a journal but feel free to ask questions and please excuse any half formed thoughts or typos.

My system:

Torus AVR the second largest one before the wall unit -> rockna wavedream NET -> rockna wavedream sig se -> soulution 721 -> symphonic line kraft 300 (mk3 model - most recent) -> magico s5mk2.

I was running a wireworld loom until I got some new components which are on stock power cables. Why? Well, I wanted to get them set up and burned in and then continue with my loom but instead of buying cables and a rack I ended up with a Taiko instead lol. I know I outlined my situation above but mentally I've parceled away the money so I'm going to stop buying audio stuff for a little bit and then recable.

I have done no network optimization due to a mix of lack of time, lack of interest currently, and a desire to let others figure out what works first. I have a verizon fios 1gb line but otherwise stock parts from them. I was going to buy a new ethernet cable, but same issue as outlined above.

The taiko is sitting on the floor, plugged directly into a separate outlet and not the torus. I'm using a $5 amazon basics usb cable, a stock power cable, and a stock cat6 that came with an xbox. This is not optimized at all but I just wanted to get this running. Also because of the price delta between the Rockna Wavedream NET, which I adore and has synergies (such as a specialized clock) with the dac, I basically want to make sure the delta in performance is high enough that it makes sense for me to start optimizing around the Taiko. I know some readers may dismiss my take aways because of this, but ultimately, this is what I need from the Taiko to justify the cost. The fit and finish is gorgeous, it's incredibly heavy, and we all know how well engineered it is. For some, that is enough to buy it - for me, I need need need to make sure the delta in price makes sense as I would take a minimal degradation in performance in order to redeploy the capital into something more responsible.

My musical preferences:

I tend to listen to rap, hip hop, electronic, and a bit of pop. I'm always open to new music in different genres and dabble in some classical and jazz when the mood hits as well as music from India (particularly ghazals as I grew up listening to them). Within hip hop and rap, I vary from modern trap to more rhyming/"bars" focused artists such as Kendrick or J. Cole. I definitely value a great beat over great lyrics but when a master wordsmith absolutely "bodies" a beat, it doesn't matter what the beat is because the timing, pace, intonation, and tempo shifts all showcase the genius of the artist. I love listening for samples from other works and references to other artists/older works - these are often described as "interpolations"

Within electronic, I was a big trance head for years. I listen to trance less so now and when I do it's usually psytrance (artists such as simon patterson). But I love me some good techno (boris brejcha and aes dana come to mind) - I wasn't a huge fan until I went to Awakenings festival in the netherlands in 2018. I love future garage and wavepool as well because of the ebbing and flowing deep bass and vast soundscapes with ghostly samples. I'll listen to a little house or older dubstep here and there but it's not really my speed

My listening biases:

Resolution, space, speed take first preference. Tonal density matters more to me now that it did before because I am at the point in my audio journey where I have realized that the upper echelons of gear don't require one to sacrifice body for detail and air. I do like a bit of richness in vocals but my ears are particularly sensitive to speed and most gear described as "rich" is often slow to my ears. Dynamics are extremely important as I like a first row presentation that pops out at me but I also realize that modern music can be dynamically limited so often it's not a fault of my system but a fault of the recording.

Day 1: Out of the box, goddamn is this thing heavy...but also very pretty. After hunting down spare cables in my closet I got it plugged in and running. Set up was easy enough, but I'm not sure if I need to mess around with the software at all. Emile kindly messaged me on whatsapp (honestly, this kind of service makes the price palatable) and told me play around with Asio vs. Jplay. I started with Jplay then switched to Asio where it stayed most of the day. I'm not sure I hear much of a difference between the two but I need to sit down and listen more closely after everything opens up a bit. There is certainly something interesting going on, the sound seems bigger and clearer but I'm still a bit apprehensive and nervous about the expenditure. Let's see where this goes. My plan is to listen to this for a week or more as I get accustomed to the sound and as, in my experience, most ss devices sound better when left on for days.
 

Skanda

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May 3, 2020
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Day 2: worked late into the night, woke up tired and slow. made some coffee and as per ritual, threw on some tunes while checking emails. i started with a track I play often. Darci - Come Around. A small, somewhat unknow artist. The lyrics/rhyming are meh, but the beat is clean, layered, and atmospheric. My friends and I refer to this as "chillcloud" - easy listening but atmospheric and leaning towards the darker persuasions. Chillcloud music has been the soundtrack to many a spliff :). Now, I will say that I'm one of the lucky one who can experience synesthesia through music. It doesn't happen often but for whatever reason, when I hear this track I see a shade of purple that I've never seen anywhere else. You can find magic in the most random of places.

I've heard about all the details one can hear in this track off my CIEMs (64Audio A18T) so I'm not expecting to hear anything new but there is a sense of space that I haven't heard from this beat. The stage is massive and all encompassing. The Kraft brought this aspect out of the magicos and the Taiko seems to give the Kraft more space to work with if that makes sense. The bass digs deep and while very resolute, I notice the lowest octaves are one-note. This could be a fault of my room, something upstream, the recording, or lack of break in on the Taiko - I guess this will be revealed in due time. There is a density and flow to the vocals that, while I've heard before, is enhanced to a new degree.

The closest I can liken it to - for my fellow big watt Class A amp owners - when my system plays for an hour or two it hits this level of flow and dynamics. It doesnt sound bad on track one but this quality is enhanced through a listening session as the lower mid to lower treble range opens up and the dynamic shading from that peak to trough becomes apparent. The Tiako is able to bring this out on track 1 and with more clarity and tonal color than I've heard before. At least, I'm attributing to this Taiko and not the use of usb or something else. Some may disagree with this conclusion but in the past when I changed inputs on my dac, I didn't hear this level of difference.

A track like Lykke Li's Last Piece is a great showcase of this. A minimal beat that builds and she brings so many vocal ranges and tempos to the table. The song itself varies from visceral to ethereal but that lower mid to lower treble range (in this case it would be lower treble to lower mid as she lowers her voice to harmonize with the beat) and this variation creates something beautiful as I have a weakness for modulating female vocals. it's a great way to test a speaker system's speed as it needs to be able to shift tempos quickly. On the resolution side, particularly as it relates to inner details, Alina Baraz's Maybe is beautifully put together track with and exceptionally deep sustained bass note and her high pitched vocals with smoky reverb. I honestly find the beat in this track distracting in the last third of the track and tend to skip the track around there. Today I noticed an added sense of air to her vocals and that smoky reverb I referred to earlier had greater presence offering a more ghostly sound. I prefer it this way and would not classify it as slow or anything like that.

Last track before I stop listening (it will keep playing in the back but I need to put down some code today): Burial's Archangel. As always Burial brings a ghostly atmosphere and beautiful samples. This is my favorite Burial track and I go through long spells of listening to only future garage or wavepool (Volor Flex, Ofdream, Craset, and Pensees being my favorites in that genre). This is room boundary shattering space. I've heard something like this once before when I had Dynaudio 1.4LE's with a modest Arc stack. They were on the short wall and as monitors imaging was a strong suit. I currently have my speakers on the long wall and tweeters are about 4ft away from the wall behind them. I certainly have a front row sound out of preference but I'm hearing deeper into the back of the stage and above my head as well. Oh what the hell, one more track can't hurt: Sorrow - Want U Back. Little xylophone synth dancing with the bass line. Ignore the earlier vocals, they don't add anything to the track but the way that bass ebbs and flows is gorgeous. It starts with a big punch on the bass note that rolls and waves down to lower octaves. It stops short of the octaves where I am hearing "one-note"-ness. There is a lot of texture to the bass and for me I see waves forming in front of me (attribute this back to the synesthesia) - particularly when the later (and preferable) samples of what sounds like indian female vocals with their high pitched modulations kick in. Fine, one more, Normani and 6Lack's Waves. A sexy track with Normani's emotion packed voice contrasted by 6Lack's more gruff, staticy rnb - more of what I was hearing above. Normani is able to dance around the beat in the pre chorus and the system is able to follow before delivering a viscerally deep bass line on the chorus. That gave me some goosebumps, waves of them if you pardon the pun.

All in all, an interesting listen this morning. Clearly the Taiko has improved since yesterday. There is no denying that. There is also no denying that this is an unoptimized set up and Day 2 of a new piece of gear: long road ahead but I am excited to explore further.
 

spiritofmusic

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Jun 13, 2013
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Skanda, I'm liking your style. No 4x DSD audiophile classical for you. More like good old fashioned, rough around the edges, 16/44 music. 95% of my music is similarly real world. And so I'm very interested in your take. And the Rockna versus Extreme is a good comparison, w the Rockna being at the next echelon/price band down, not an entry level streamer like Innuos Zen Mini, eg.
Could I ask you to compare on both machines Miles Davis "On The Corner" and "Pangea"? I think you'll like the former, especially.
And these two albums will give a great indicator of PRaT, and rhythmic organisation, and the ability to sort many strands of music at once, an area that digital can get very jittery on.
Would appreciate the feedback.
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
Day 2: worked late into the night, woke up tired and slow. made some coffee and as per ritual, threw on some tunes while checking emails. i started with a track I play often. Darci - Come Around. A small, somewhat unknow artist. The lyrics/rhyming are meh, but the beat is clean, layered, and atmospheric. My friends and I refer to this as "chillcloud" - easy listening but atmospheric and leaning towards the darker persuasions. Chillcloud music has been the soundtrack to many a spliff :). Now, I will say that I'm one of the lucky one who can experience synesthesia through music. It doesn't happen often but for whatever reason, when I hear this track I see a shade of purple that I've never seen anywhere else. You can find magic in the most random of places.

I've heard about all the details one can hear in this track off my CIEMs (64Audio A18T) so I'm not expecting to hear anything new but there is a sense of space that I haven't heard from this beat. The stage is massive and all encompassing. The Kraft brought this aspect out of the magicos and the Taiko seems to give the Kraft more space to work with if that makes sense. The bass digs deep and while very resolute, I notice the lowest octaves are one-note. This could be a fault of my room, something upstream, the recording, or lack of break in on the Taiko - I guess this will be revealed in due time. There is a density and flow to the vocals that, while I've heard before, is enhanced to a new degree.

The closest I can liken it to - for my fellow big watt Class A amp owners - when my system plays for an hour or two it hits this level of flow and dynamics. It doesnt sound bad on track one but this quality is enhanced through a listening session as the lower mid to lower treble range opens up and the dynamic shading from that peak to trough becomes apparent. The Tiako is able to bring this out on track 1 and with more clarity and tonal color than I've heard before. At least, I'm attributing to this Taiko and not the use of usb or something else. Some may disagree with this conclusion but in the past when I changed inputs on my dac, I didn't hear this level of difference.

A track like Lykke Li's Last Piece is a great showcase of this. A minimal beat that builds and she brings so many vocal ranges and tempos to the table. The song itself varies from visceral to ethereal but that lower mid to lower treble range (in this case it would be lower treble to lower mid as she lowers her voice to harmonize with the beat) and this variation creates something beautiful as I have a weakness for modulating female vocals. it's a great way to test a speaker system's speed as it needs to be able to shift tempos quickly. On the resolution side, particularly as it relates to inner details, Alina Baraz's Maybe is beautifully put together track with and exceptionally deep sustained bass note and her high pitched vocals with smoky reverb. I honestly find the beat in this track distracting in the last third of the track and tend to skip the track around there. Today I noticed an added sense of air to her vocals and that smoky reverb I referred to earlier had greater presence offering a more ghostly sound. I prefer it this way and would not classify it as slow or anything like that.

Last track before I stop listening (it will keep playing in the back but I need to put down some code today): Burial's Archangel. As always Burial brings a ghostly atmosphere and beautiful samples. This is my favorite Burial track and I go through long spells of listening to only future garage or wavepool (Volor Flex, Ofdream, Craset, and Pensees being my favorites in that genre). This is room boundary shattering space. I've heard something like this once before when I had Dynaudio 1.4LE's with a modest Arc stack. They were on the short wall and as monitors imaging was a strong suit. I currently have my speakers on the long wall and tweeters are about 4ft away from the wall behind them. I certainly have a front row sound out of preference but I'm hearing deeper into the back of the stage and above my head as well. Oh what the hell, one more track can't hurt: Sorrow - Want U Back. Little xylophone synth dancing with the bass line. Ignore the earlier vocals, they don't add anything to the track but the way that bass ebbs and flows is gorgeous. It starts with a big punch on the bass note that rolls and waves down to lower octaves. It stops short of the octaves where I am hearing "one-note"-ness. There is a lot of texture to the bass and for me I see waves forming in front of me (attribute this back to the synesthesia) - particularly when the later (and preferable) samples of what sounds like indian female vocals with their high pitched modulations kick in. Fine, one more, Normani and 6Lack's Waves. A sexy track with Normani's emotion packed voice contrasted by 6Lack's more gruff, staticy rnb - more of what I was hearing above. Normani is able to dance around the beat in the pre chorus and the system is able to follow before delivering a viscerally deep bass line on the chorus. That gave me some goosebumps, waves of them if you pardon the pun.

All in all, an interesting listen this morning. Clearly the Taiko has improved since yesterday. There is no denying that. There is also no denying that this is an unoptimized set up and Day 2 of a new piece of gear: long road ahead but I am excited to explore further.
Emile says the Extreme requires 1200 hours of burn in so it’s only going to get better
 

Skanda

Active Member
May 3, 2020
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Skanda, I'm liking your style. No 4x DSD audiophile classical for you. More like good old fashioned, rough around the edges, 16/44 music. 95% of my music is similarly real world. And so I'm very interested in your take. And the Rockna versus Extreme is a good comparison, w the Rockna being at the next echelon/price band down, not an entry level streamer like Innuos Zen Mini, eg.
Could I ask you to compare on both machines Miles Davis "On The Corner" and "Pangea"? I think you'll like the former, especially.
And these two albums will give a great indicator of PRaT, and rhythmic organisation, and the ability to sort many strands of music at once, an area that digital can get very jittery on.
Would appreciate the feedback.

thanks man, appreciate it! i think i'm going to probably do some initial shoot outs with the rockna next week so the extreme has some time to play and settle in and so i can get used to its sound too. will keep those albums in mind, i love miles davis (porgy and bess is my favorite from him). i'm glad you appreciate my musical choices here - i've always disagreed that a bad recording will sound bad on a good system. a good system should be able to highlight the musicality and emotion of all music while still showcasing one mastering engineer's ability over another, it shouldnt kill the music just because its not a great recording.
 

spiritofmusic

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Jun 13, 2013
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Emile says the Extreme requires 1200 hours of in so it’s only going to get better
I know someone who is on his way to that magical 1200 hours...and yes, it's true, it's opening up every day for the last couple of weeks. Seems a crazy long time.
 
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Steve Williams

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I know someone who is on his way to that magical 1200 hours...and yes, it's true, it's opening up every day for the last couple of weeks. Seems a crazy long time.
It’s the capacitors which require all the time. IIRC
 
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Skanda

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Sounds about right, Klaus told me something similar re my Kraft and it's what I am experiencing as well. The crazy thing is that the extreme is only modestly lighter than my kraft and is very similar in total microfarads of capacitance. i certainly look for pieces with robust power supplies so that caught my attention right away
 
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Taiko Audio

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Hi Skanda,

Did not realize you were "just" 29 years old. I assumed @tsaett , who joined our team a few months ago, to be the youngest Extreme owner at 31. Very refreshing to see some new blood joining our hobby. A pleasurable read, looking forward to reading more of where that came from :)
 

Skanda

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hahaha these late nights of coding are aging me. gotta work to keep up the expense of these new toys hahah
glad to have you on this thread, Emile - i know you're super busy so i appreciate you dropping by and hopefully being a big part of this audio journal
 

spiritofmusic

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Emile, I bought my first system at just a few years older than Skanda. And here I am, ready for the funny farm a quarter century later...
 
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Taiko Audio

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Emile, I bought my first system at just a few years older than Skanda. And here I am, ready for the funny farm a quarter century later...

Good old times, what did you get? My first were Klipsch "Eck-horns" with Altec Lansing 511b top horns, don't remember amplification but I did have a Technics SL-1210!
 

spiritofmusic

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Oh, just an unremarkable all-Roksan system. £9k total in 1997.
My need to not follow the crowd meant I swerved the uber logical choice at the time, Linn Sondek LP12 tt.
 

Taiko Audio

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My stuff was all garage sale sourced, was about 14 years old so my budget was restricted to what I made from mowing neighbourhood lawns and chopping wood :)
 

Blackmorec

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Hi Skanda,
Nice initial write up! I’m going to explore some of your musical references....sound very interesting!
Also very interested in your comments around Synesthesia. I’m one of those very lucky people who seem to have receptor sites in my brain for great music. I can get very emotional when the music is achingly beautiful and that can include everything from Beethoven and Saint-Saens to Shpongle or Boris Blank.
And when the rhythms are tight and driving, my body just wont sit still. I call it chair dancing
One of the things I’ve been considering is putting together a thread of “Great Music for Playing on a Extreme”. I’ll give you an example; Bullitt by Lalo Schifrin. When played on an Extreme or the like, its just soooo good it simply transcends musical taste. Another is Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells 2003. On an average system it can sound middle of the road and slight boring, but played on a true high end system, its utterly stunning. Some of the most beautiful guitar work and driving rhythms you’ll ever hear.....when fully optimised these systems and music will take you to a different conciousness level, where there’s only music present. MMmmmmm

One thing I would point out and its something you already know. Your initial set-up has pretty much hobbled the Extreme’s ability to perform at ANYTHING LIKE its full potential. That one note bass you hear.....almost certainly set-up related. If you’re going to implement something like an Extreme, you’re going to be committing yourself to aN ongoing journey of upgrades to its environment. I don’t run an Extreme as I’m pursuing my own errr ‘philosophy’ which doesn’t include Roon or Windows but I can tell you that the performance a top server like the Extreme is capable of with your ancillary gear and an optimised environment is very likely far beyond even what your hoping for. I have spent 2 years optimizing my Server’s network stream and installation environment and the rewards just keep coming. What I’m now hearing is WAY beyond what I ever dreamed possible from the humble 16/44.1 format. There is just so much information on these files and remarkable as it is, we still haven’t got anywhere near retrieving all the information that’s available with these recordings. The fact that each network and set-up improvement brings additional information and improved presentation tells you there’s yet more and I can assure you the bar is already pretty high, so lucky us, to be blessed with so much wonderful music.
Anyway, looking forward to hearing how things progress.
 

spiritofmusic

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My stuff was all garage sale sourced, was about 14 years old so my budget was restricted to what I made from mowing neighbourhood lawns and chopping wood :)
Your wood shedding has certainly paid off, Emile.
 
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Taiko Audio

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@Blackmorec , totally agree with you on the performance impact of ancillaries / setup, the description of "one note bass" I would attribute to the Mundorf electrolytic capacitors needing burn in though. The larger these are the longer it takes. This one for example is huge, has about a 4" diameter and takes forever to burn in, at least twice as long as the ones we use in the Extreme, it sounds ill defined in the bass even beyond 1200 hours:

IMG_6676.jpg
 

Blackmorec

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@Blackmorec , totally agree with you on the performance impact of ancillaries / setup, the description of "one note bass" I would attribute to the Mundorf electrolytic capacitors needing burn in though. The larger these are the longer it takes. This one for example is huge, has about a 4" diameter and takes forever to burn in, at least twice as long as the ones we use in the Extreme, it sounds ill defined in the bass even beyond 1200 hours:

View attachment 67297
I’ve mainly heard one note bass associated with new power cables etc. but Mundorfs are in exactly that same chain so the effect is likely to be very similar. I have a lot of Mundorfs in my system and I do agree they take a long time to settle, although well worth it when they do.

My problem at the moment is that I’m spending a lot of time listening to something or other in my system breaking in and the better my system gets, the longer break-in takes and more magic it temporarily removes. The funny thing is, when the system reaches the point its working really well you can clearly hear it, but I’m damned if I can describe the difference sonically....its just like everything is more natural, more flowing, more spacious, more detailed in every respect, but what really changes is my reaction to the music. Prior to running in my involvement is lower and my mind wanders....after fully running in the music seems to fully occupy every brain cell and its this aspect that makes the whole thing so rewarding :)
 
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Skanda

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One thing I would point out and its something you already know. Your initial set-up has pretty much hobbled the Extreme’s ability to perform at ANYTHING LIKE its full potential. That one note bass you hear.....almost certainly set-up related. If you’re going to implement something like an Extreme, you’re going to be committing yourself to aN ongoing journey of upgrades to its environment. I don’t run an Extreme as I’m pursuing my own errr ‘philosophy’ which doesn’t include Roon or Windows but I can tell you that the performance a top server like the Extreme is capable of with your ancillary gear and an optimised environment is very likely far beyond even what your hoping for.

i wouldn't go so far as to say it is hobbled. i can't throw more money into my system right now so I will have to make do with what's there right now...which i feel is pretty nice stuff that i've acquired over the years. there's no end goal for me in audio, i like to try new gear and so long as i'm enjoying it i'm headed in the right direction.

i'll up the ancillaries but i also have my set up in my living room so i need to be mindful of cable management etc. given the price difference i want to see what the extreme can do vs the rockna. network ancillaries and better cables would improve the rockna too so i figure it's still fair. i figure i'm not the only person in situation/many potential extreme customers want to know what it can do out of the box and plopped in the system while they optimize later. if someone's already optimized in anticipation they can assume that the extreme will be even more impactful in their system. i'm also waiting for a consensus...the jcat m12 stuff looks cool but it's also a good chunk of the extreme's cost. switches seem cheap but now it seems like it makes most sense to wait for Emile's Taiko Switch.

in my own audio journey i've tended to barbell systems with a very nice piece and then building around it...then buying another echelon above piece and then upgrading around that. $ for $ cables have had the least (i won't say no) impact in my system so i usually let it fall to the side. i'm just not interested in that side of things *shrug*. Tom usually hooks me up on wireworld which has good price points for me, he has other brands but they tend to be more expensive and i'm not sure that's something I want to spend money on until I have a fully dedicated and acoustically treated room.

i'm glad you brought this up because this is another thing i struggle with professional reviews: not everyone has a fully optimized chain, not everyone has top flight cables, and not everyone has a perfect room. if gear 100% requires that to show it's merit, then it's not for me because there is plenty of gear out there that sounds truly exceptional in unoptimized environments and that's fun for the owner too as there is a natural path forward for squeezing more performance out of their rigs.
 

Steve Williams

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i wouldn't go so far as to say it is hobbled. i can't throw more money into my system right now so I will have to make do with what's there right now...which i feel is pretty nice stuff that i've acquired over the years. there's no end goal for me in audio, i like to try new gear and so long as i'm enjoying it i'm headed in the right direction.

i'll up the ancillaries but i also have my set up in my living room so i need to be mindful of cable management etc. given the price difference i want to see what the extreme can do vs the rockna. network ancillaries and better cables would improve the rockna too so i figure it's still fair. i figure i'm not the only person in situation/many potential extreme customers want to know what it can do out of the box and plopped in the system while they optimize later. if someone's already optimized in anticipation they can assume that the extreme will be even more impactful in their system. i'm also waiting for a consensus...the jcat m12 stuff looks cool but it's also a good chunk of the extreme's cost. switches seem cheap but now it seems like it makes most sense to wait for Emile's Taiko Switch.

in my own audio journey i've tended to barbell systems with a very nice piece and then building around it...then buying another echelon above piece and then upgrading around that. $ for $ cables have had the least (i won't say no) impact in my system so i usually let it fall to the side. i'm just not interested in that side of things *shrug*. Tom usually hooks me up on wireworld which has good price points for me, he has other brands but they tend to be more expensive and i'm not sure that's something I want to spend money on until I have a fully dedicated and acoustically treated room.

i'm glad you brought this up because this is another thing i struggle with professional reviews: not everyone has a fully optimized chain, not everyone has top flight cables, and not everyone has a perfect room. if gear 100% requires that to show it's merit, then it's not for me because there is plenty of gear out there that sounds truly exceptional in unoptimized environments and that's fun for the owner too as there is a natural path forward for squeezing more performance out of their rigs.


you're on the correct path. Enjoy the journey.I'm here to say that I am an outlier and believe the Extreme is so good that as a standalone unit you can get excellent sound without any add ons such as switches. If I were to ever go in that direction the only switch I would use is one designed specifically to optimize the sound for the Extreme, to wit the switch under design by Emile
 

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