Suggestions: SOTA Ethernet Server for a DAC Renderer

Oct 30, 2017
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#1
I am getting ready to set up the digital side of my new room and was hoping I could get some feedback on the current crop of SOTA Ethernet Servers. I have an MSB DAC with the MSB Renderer so I have already cast my ballot on what I think is the best architecture for getting files to a player (i.e, ethernet not local storage at player) and getting the output from player to dac (i.e., I2S not USB, Spidf, etc.). So those decisions need not be addressed.

I realize a lot of threads have discussed this in the past but this seems to be a fast evolving markets. I am looking for a server with the best ethernet isolation, power and grounding execution. Roon comapitbility, SSD storage, USA support and USA manufactured (for service reasons) are preferences but not mandatory. Sound quality is top priority. Based on my limited leg work I have identified the following candidates:


Innuos Zenith MK II (or SE) - Pros -- SSD, Roon, USA support. Cons-- ?
Melco N1ZH/2 (or N1ZS/2) - Pros -- SSD on European version, USA Support. Cons -- No SSD in USA (HDD only), No Roon, Not USA serviced.
Fidata HFAS1-XS20U - Pros -- SSD on European version. Cons -- No USA support or service, No Roon.
Mojo Deja Vu - Pros -- SSD, Roon, USA support and service. Cons -- ?


All of these servers use isolated ethernet-out ports to the player (renderer) and sophisticated power and grounding schematics which are critical IMO. For this reason I have not included some of the usual candidates like the Sonic Orbitor, the Roon Nucleus, the NUC/Rock, SotM, NAS drives, or, of course, as stated above, servers/(players) optimized more for USB or Spidf (like the SGM, Lumin U1, etc.) as opposed to ethernet.

I am curious if any users have experience in their systems or in auditions with these units or any top units I am misssing. Thanks.
 
Last edited:

asiufy

Member Sponsor
Jul 8, 2011
2,708
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San Diego, CA
almaaudio.com
#2
Paul,

Congrats on the MSB!
Where did you hear the Innuos are not serviced in the US? There is distribution (I'm a dealer), and they provide remote support if necessary (hardly ever is). So there is support in the US!
Out of all similar servers out there, I've heard a few (including one that you listed there), and my choice overall was the Innuos.
If you'd like to try the Zenith, let me know and I can arrange for it.

thanks,
Alex
 
Oct 30, 2017
496
0
16
USA
#3
Paul,

Congrats on the MSB!
Where did you hear the Innuos are not serviced in the US? There is distribution (I'm a dealer), and they provide remote support if necessary (hardly ever is). So there is support in the US!
Out of all similar servers out there, I've heard a few (including one that you listed there), and my choice overall was the Innuos.
If you'd like to try the Zenith, let me know and I can arrange for it.

thanks,
Alex
Thanks very much Alex. I new there are dealers for the Zenith here but I didn't realize you were one :) and I thought it had to be shipped to UK for service even though rare. Thank for the information. I am definitely intrigued by the Zenith. Hoping to get a little more perspective here and then i may indeed be in touch. Can you tell me which unit your feel it bettered?
 
Oct 30, 2017
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#4
Anyone have any experience with these? The Mojo and Innuos are my leads. If no experience with the Mojo Server how about the Dacs? I am curious about this company.
 
Jul 17, 2016
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#5
I just got the Innuos ZENith Mk. II SE and have the SOtM sMS-200 Ultra, dX-USB Ultra, modded switch as well. I'll let you know how they compare once the Zenith burns in. Supposedly, it takes a while to sound good.
 
Oct 30, 2017
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#6
I just got the Innuos ZENith Mk. II SE and have the SOtM sMS-200 Ultra, dX-USB Ultra, modded switch as well. I'll let you know how they compare once the Zenith burns in. Supposedly, it takes a while to sound good.
Awesome. Thanks!
 
Feb 28, 2015
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#8
I just got the Innuos ZENith Mk. II SE and have the SOtM sMS-200 Ultra, dX-USB Ultra, modded switch as well. I'll let you know how they compare once the Zenith burns in. Supposedly, it takes a while to sound good.
Awesome. The Zenith or SE is one of the units I am considering as one of my requirements is Spotify with a ripper. There are very few servers that offer a ripper and Spotify support. Please do give Spotify a try and tell us how it sounds.

Much appreciated.
 
#9
Empirical Audio has a DLNA renderer (Interchange) that will deliver 20psec jitter signal on all of these outputs:

S/PDIF BNC or RCA
AES/EBU
I2S single-ended
I2S on HDMI (compatible with PSAudio)

Unfortunately, Roon does not support DLNA, only Jriver and Audirvana+.

I also have a WIFI solution that can be added that maintains the same low jitter.

Why do you need a server? Just use any computer with your player software on it.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
 
Oct 30, 2017
496
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16
USA
#10
Why do you need a server? Just use any computer with your player software on it.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
So it is your position that the ethernet isolation topology, linear power supplies, and grounding schemes of the devices I referenced are of no consequence to SQ through a Dac's renderer ethernet port?
 
#11
So it is your position that the ethernet isolation topology, linear power supplies, and grounding schemes of the devices I referenced are of no consequence to SQ through a Dac's renderer ethernet port?
I never said that. If you are using wired Ethernet from router to DAC, then connecting the earth ground to the DC common of the LPS used for the router is critical. I also do this on my WIFI solution LPS.

I do all of this and still use a Mac Mini as my server, running Jriver.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
 
Jul 17, 2016
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#12
I never said that. If you are using wired Ethernet from router to DAC, then connecting the earth ground to the DC common of the LPS used for the router is critical. I also do this on my WIFI solution LPS.

I do all of this and still use a Mac Mini as my server, running Jriver.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
John Swenson over at Computeraudiophile.com also recommends grounding the energizing supply for linear power supplies and network switches. He's actually measured differences.
 
#13
John Swenson over at Computeraudiophile.com also recommends grounding the energizing supply for linear power supplies and network switches. He's actually measured differences.
I know John Swenson. He's a smart guy. I have also seen measurements. Grounding can mean chassis grounding only, so make sure you say connecting DC common to earth ground.

Adding an inexpensive Ethernet isolator also helps. I like the EMO EN-70e best.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
 
Jul 17, 2016
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#14
I know John Swenson. He's a smart guy. I have also seen measurements. Grounding can mean chassis grounding only, so make sure you say connecting DC common to earth ground.

Adding an inexpensive Ethernet isolator also helps. I like the EMO EN-70e best.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
Yes, that's what I meant to say!
 
Oct 30, 2017
496
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16
USA
#15
Why do you need a server? Just use any computer with your player software on it.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
So it is your position that the ethernet isolation topology, linear power supplies, and grounding schemes of the devices I referenced are of no consequence to SQ through a Dac's renderer ethernet port?
I never said that. If you are using wired Ethernet from router to DAC, then connecting the earth ground to the DC common of the LPS used for the router is critical. I also do this on my WIFI solution LPS.

I do all of this and still use a Mac Mini as my server, running Jriver.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
So it is your position that if you connect the earth ground to the DC common of the LPS used for your router that the ethernet isolation topology, linear power supplies, and grounding schemes of the devices I referenced are of no consequence to SQ through a Dac's renderer ethernet port?
 
#16
So it is your position that if you connect the earth ground to the DC common of the LPS used for your router that the ethernet isolation topology, linear power supplies, and grounding schemes of the devices I referenced are of no consequence to SQ through a Dac's renderer ethernet port?
LPS is a good idea, but I'm not sure its necessary if you do the grounding. I use one though.

All you need is the grounded router supply and maybe a LPS. You can add an isolator, but improvement is in the noise at that point.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
 
Oct 30, 2017
496
0
16
USA
#17
So it is your position that if you connect the earth ground to the DC common of the LPS used for your router that the ethernet isolation topology, linear power supplies, and grounding schemes of the devices I referenced are of no consequence to SQ through a Dac's renderer ethernet port?
LPS is a good idea, but I'm not sure its necessary if you do the grounding. I use one though.

All you need is the grounded router supply and maybe a LPS. You can add an isolator, but improvement is in the noise at that point.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
I am confused; so your answer to my question is yes?
 

steve williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
#18
#19
I am confused; so your answer to my question is yes?
Yes. I would recommend the DC-common to earth grounded fast-reacting LPS.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
 
Oct 30, 2017
496
0
16
USA
#20
Geez, why is this so difficult? I feel like a dentist. You asked me the following question:

Why do you need a server? Just use any computer with your player software on it.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
I responded by asking you the following question the basis of which provides an obvious answer to your question (i.e., because I am looking for SQ improvement in the products listed) which you refuse to answer. Are you genuinely not understanding or did you just decide to troll my thread for yucks?

So it is your position that if you connect the earth ground to the DC common of the LPS used for your router that the ethernet isolation topology, linear power supplies, and grounding schemes of the devices I referenced are of no consequence to SQ through a Dac's renderer ethernet port?
 

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