My Pachanko Server is here. A bargain at 16k Euros?!

Christiaan Punter

Well-Known Member
Very
Recently received my Pachanko Constellation Masterpiece server (formerly called Constellation SE+) and just want to share some initial impressions with you guys.

I had little knowledge of this company except for their digital cables which have received great feedbacks from a lot of people doing DIY servers. I had researched other choices before I took the plunge (I had an old thread ages ago about it).
  • Taiko. (love to try one but over what I am comfortable spending on a server)
  • Innuos Statement (similar price point, easy plug and play, 2 boxes)
  • Antipodes K40. (from NZ, close to me! a LOT of good reviews. specs look a bit meh on paper)

My current setup:

CH C1 (with HD streaming card)-T1-X1-M10- Marten Mingus Orchestra.

Network is optimised with dedicated power circuits w gigawatt inwall cablings, Sablon ethernet cables head to toe, SBoosters on modems, clocked SOTM and Uptone ER powered by Uptone JS-2.

I use ROON, despite a lot of people bagging it, it’s the best music interface I have tried and for a computer-illiterate like myself it’s great. I have tried Taiko Beta version TAS and CH’s own app. They are both terrible from a user experience point of view (sorry Taiko fans!)

So…. after hours of research and many many emails to Pachanko I spent my hard earn $ and went for it. Not knowing what to expect... this is a company that does almost zero marketing. At least I could find very little about them.

I belong to the camp that believes power is extremely important to digital playback, or any HiFi component for that matter. Over 20+ yrs of doing this, I have learned that #1 is the room, #2 is quality of the power supply. Without these 2 things optimised you are pretty much swimming against the current.

The 2-box power supply is a beast, and that’s what sets this apart. The rest are just computer parts and software to me. I have seen the internals and the amount of Mundorf caps that were packed in there is ridiculous. No wonder they need 2 boxes to fit everything in. Taiko has a beefy power supply too but it’s on a different price point.

The 2 LPS boxes are connected via a short umbilical and another custom DC cable with Neutrik plugs into the Server. Has a thick copper base plate and some cheapo rubber feet. I placed them on Voodoo Iso-pods. I believe Pachanko used to sell the LPS on their own (minus the servers) but they seem to have taken it off their website and just offering a low-spec LPS. Maybe the margins are crap as these aren’t cheap to make?

FYI, my previous Roon server was a Silent Angel Rhein Z1, powered by Uptone JS-2. And that served me well over 1 yr and tbh, for the cost (with a good LPS), it will kill a lot of more expensive servers. It convinced me that digital is the way to go in the future. I A/B tested the Z1 with standard adaptor vs LPS, it’s a must imo.

After some long saga with manufacturer/COVID delays, they finally arrived via DHL and Pachanko immediately dialed into the server and helped me setup and uploaded my music onto it. And after some tweaking from them, it was up and running in no time.

They came double-boxed with foam damping on the insides, and the idiots at DHL threw the box around a bit, luckily no major damage inside. I would prefer some better packaging for something at this price point, ie custom sized thicker foam and internal dividers. There’s also no instructions manuals or warranty card etc. For a small company, it’s ok.

I am waiting for their reference powercord to come (supposed to be included for this top-of-line model), so currently using an old PAD Dominus to power the LPS. They recommend plugging this into the High-current output of my conditioner, not the digital output due to how hungry the LPS is.

Quality is great. These low-production products worry me always as QC can be hit and miss. But it feels like a tank. The Server box is your generic DIY metal case, Taiko/Innuos have nicer looking bespoke designs imo. The LPS have heavy milled aluminium cases with integrated cooling slots. Not sure if it’s off the shelve design like the server but I haven’t seen this used elsewhere. Anyway, I like the look of the LPS. Back of server just look like a computer with standard USB slots etc, LPS power plug is Furutech NCF type. Pachanko was kind enough to change the colour of the power buttom LED to amber from the standard blue, to match the rest of my CH gear.

Bit of a pain to find room on my rack cos there are 3 boxes (with short cords) and the LPS are heavy! They don’t run hot so I can place them inside a cabinet with minimal air flow.



So… how does it sound?

I left them on 24/7 (the caps take a while to run in). But I usually leave my system on 24/7 anyway. So my initial impression after a few days of running in:

It’s Quiet. Very quiet background. Music just pops out at you and the holographic presentation is further improved (it was pretty good already!). Vocals especially is more palpable. I love listening to live recordings and the soundstaging/ and imaging is just magical.

It conveys music in a trueful way. I ran thru some older recordings and my old server seems to iron out more of the “nasties” while the Pachanko just tells it like it is. So good and bad with this. Good recordings sounds better, Poor recordings sounded worse. Does this mean the Pachanko extracts more details? I don’t know. It is what it is.

Any more details it will be bordering on fatiguing to my ears. Think Esoteric digital fatiguing. This is just enough details for me. I am more of a soundstage/image guy, my CH system is quite detail and resolving already. Bass is another area that was improved. The quality of the “thump” has further improved and it was one of things I wanted to play around with but given constraints of my listening room it was hard. I don’t have a big room but it’s well treated.

One thing that surprised me was the Tidal streaming was also improved. That I don’t quite understand as streaming is via the CH streaming card. I asked them and apparently it’s the software or file management via Roon that accounts for the change? Damn if I know but I am not complaining. It’s super responsive in Roon as well, which is prob due to a faster processor vs my old server.

After upgrading to the CH M10 (from M1.1), I was thinking “this is it for me”, it’s 10 out of 10 already.

This new server just notched it up another 0.5, so it’s now 10.5 out of 10 :)


Is it a massive improvement over my old server? No, at the level of my system any upgrade is marginal and subjective. Don’t kid yourselves! I don’t have super-human hearing like some of you guys have, and I am not one of those who rave about putting an damping footer and how it “totally” transformed the system.o_O



But I would say the real world improvement I got is of the same magnitude as upgrading your speaker cables + interconnects. And for those who has an already good system/speakers that are resolving enough, this server makes a difference. And for those who don’t, spend money on room treatments then get better components first imo.

As for the Pachanko, I would defintely put it on your shortlist.

For 16k euros retail, it's both expensive and a bargain at the same time. That power supply ain’t cheap to make and Pachanko cables aren’t cheap either. Support been good and CHAN (who is one of the owners) has always been quick to reply my queries.

I can see Pachanko now has many new products coming up and several cheaper server models available too. I would say their lower priced models would be quite attractive for someone on a lower budget and fewer rack spaces:). I am usually quite skeptical of smaller audio companies as it’s quite a cut-throat industry, esp now with COVID etc. But imo Pachanko deserves to be considered amongst other hi-end servers.


View attachment 81298

Happy to answer any questions.
Very nicely engineered power supply section reminiscent of the Jeff Rowland amplifiers. The downside is that this now makes the Streacom housing look kinda out of place... I know for many it's only about the sound, but for me, ideally, the aesthetics should also be pleasing. Sorry, was not intending to rain on your parade!
 

bryans

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Very nicely engineered power supply section reminiscent of the Jeff Rowland amplifiers. The downside is that this now makes the Streacom housing look kinda out of place... I know for many it's only about the sound, but for me, ideally, the aesthetics should also be pleasing. Sorry, was not intending to rain on your parade!
I agree the PS does remind one of Jeff Rowland designs. In my opinion which are some of the best.
 
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pachankolabs

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Happy new Year 2022 to all
 

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gleeds

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May 29, 2018
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Bogan 88, thank you for bringing this server to our attention. It's great hearing a primarily streaming user is experiencing a major upgrade in SQ. Have you tried Qobuz on the system as yet?

Congratulations to you on your new set-up!
 

DrPo

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Apr 16, 2018
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Hi all, I just came by this brand this morning. Seems they have a similar philosophy as Antipodes (focus on power supply). Would be very curious to see how the sound compares to Antipodes K series products and (for a very different approach using smart SMPS) to Grimm MU1… @Christian P. perhaps something you would like to review :)?
 

Christiaan Punter

Well-Known Member
Hi all, I just came by this brand this morning. Seems they have a similar philosophy as Antipodes (focus on power supply). Would be very curious to see how the sound compares to Antipodes K series products and (for a very different approach using smart SMPS) to Grimm MU1… @Christian P. perhaps something you would like to review :)?
I'd be happy to review the Pachanko server, have just dropped them a line.
 
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pachankolabs

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Sharing some pictures of the Munich HighEnd Show 2022
 

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Bogan88

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I have no urges to upgrade at all :)

Chan from Panchanko has been doing periodic updates and fixes for me. Especially once when I had an internet/networking problem at home.

that beefy power supply is worth the asking price and I reckon it takes it to another level in terms quietness and "spaciality". No amount of expensive powercord/tweaks can compensate a sub-par power supply.

it's just tricky finding shelf spaces for the 3-piece unit
 
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gentcan

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Jun 16, 2022
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I have no urges to upgrade at all :)

Chan from Panchanko has been doing periodic updates and fixes for me. Especially once when I had an internet/networking problem at home.

that beefy power supply is worth the asking price and I reckon it takes it to another level in terms quietness and "spaciality". No amount of expensive powercord/tweaks can compensate a sub-par power supply.

it's just tricky finding shelf spaces for the 3-piece unit
Thanks @Bogan88 . I looked at their power supply and unbelieve how big they are. I am a user of Antipodes S30, a cheapest model. Want to have an upgrade server/streamer which will pass my Bartok onboard. Any advice really appreciate it.
 
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pngbb

Member
Jun 21, 2022
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5
HK
Hi~ Bogen88, you got such a wonderful setup! I’m from Hong Kong, so space is a very crucial factor affecting my music listening environment and size of system/equipment. I used to play the music from my desktop PC and my DAC is Weiss DAC501. Keep it simply and nice, I use PSI Audio A17m active speakers. SQ is good, but I found something is missing in the music from this setup… So I moved on and started to find ways to improve my setup. Upgrade the internal power and SATA cables of my PC may help… somehow, I found Pachanko. So, I discussed my case with Chan. He recommended a little brother Constellation Mini to me and it is able to fit on my desk. It took quite a long time to deliver the server to my country because of COVID. Now, I have been using the Constellation Mini for a month already. It is basically a computer, easy enough to operate with Roon. The power consumption is very well controlled and minimized, I think. I keep it on 24/7 and never feel hot to touch on the case. Regarding sound quality, Constellation Mini simply completes the missing parts of my previous setup, it puts live and musicality back to the music. In my case, Constellation Mini brings quite an impact to my listening experience. From a lifeless and boring CAS system, “transform” to a very decent HiFi system that fits on my small desk.

I ordered an audiophile grade switch already. My next target is to buy the Stellar LPS for the Constellation Mini and new switch. Hoping these will further improve the sound quality.

Hope you don’t mine I share some of my thoughts here about my new music server~
 

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gentcan

New Member
Jun 16, 2022
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Hi~ Bogen88, you got such a wonderful setup! I’m from Hong Kong, so space is a very crucial factor affecting my music listening environment and size of system/equipment. I used to play the music from my desktop PC and my DAC is Weiss DAC501. Keep it simply and nice, I use PSI Audio A17m active speakers. SQ is good, but I found something is missing in the music from this setup… So I moved on and started to find ways to improve my setup. Upgrade the internal power and SATA cables of my PC may help… somehow, I found Pachanko. So, I discussed my case with Chan. He recommended a little brother Constellation Mini to me and it is able to fit on my desk. It took quite a long time to deliver the server to my country because of COVID. Now, I have been using the Constellation Mini for a month already. It is basically a computer, easy enough to operate with Roon. The power consumption is very well controlled and minimized, I think. I keep it on 24/7 and never feel hot to touch on the case. Regarding sound quality, Constellation Mini simply completes the missing parts of my previous setup, it puts live and musicality back to the music. In my case, Constellation Mini brings quite an impact to my listening experience. From a lifeless and boring CAS system, “transform” to a very decent HiFi system that fits on my small desk.

I ordered an audiophile grade switch already. My next target is to buy the Stellar LPS for the Constellation Mini and new switch. Hoping these will further improve the sound quality.

Hope you don’t mine I share some of my thoughts here about my new music server~
It's good to know that you already tried Pachanko Server too. Any comparison to your previous server?
 

pngbb

Member
Jun 21, 2022
2
3
5
HK
It's good to know that you already tried Pachanko Server too. Any comparison to your previous server?
This is my first music server. Previously, I used my desktop computer as source, so it sounds very "digital". Now, I really love Constellation
Mini + Weiss DAC501 ch4, apart from what I mentioned above, the imaging is much better and have better depth in sound stage. With XTC DSP of DAC501, I just found myself fell in the "heart" of the music. Before I bought Mini, I also considered Grimm MU1. I had a trial session for Grimm MU1 + their LS1A. However, MU1 is too big in size and I prefer the use of LPS.
 

gentcan

New Member
Jun 16, 2022
10
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3
49
This is my first music server. Previously, I used my desktop computer as source, so it sounds very "digital". Now, I really love Constellation
Mini + Weiss DAC501 ch4, apart from what I mentioned above, the imaging is much better and have better depth in sound stage. With XTC DSP of DAC501, I just found myself fell in the "heart" of the music. Before I bought Mini, I also considered Grimm MU1. I had a trial session for Grimm MU1 + their LS1A. However, MU1 is too big in size and I prefer the use of LPS.
Yeah. Grimm mu1 also in my intention. Besides the size of 2 items, how the sound in comparison between them that you chose Mini over MU1?
 

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