Taiko Audio SGM Extreme : the Crème de la Crème

With respect to the Taiko Extreme how do you connect it to your DAC

  • USB

    Votes: 40 72.7%
  • Ethernet

    Votes: 9 16.4%
  • Both USB and Ethernet

    Votes: 4 7.3%
  • AES/EBU

    Votes: 3 5.5%
  • Dual AES/EBU

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Other

    Votes: 4 7.3%

  • Total voters
    55

Taiko Audio

Industry Expert
Feb 10, 2017
1,297
1,505
210
The Netherlands
taikoaudio.com
So, on the Extreme, you use the onboard NIC with the Telegartner GOLD M12 switch, and that sounds better than utilizing a good external PCIe card like the JCAT? I was under the impression that the Extreme was highly tweaked to utilize fiber via the Startech PCIe card. And I thought switching to the onboard NIC with the Telegartner GOLD M12 switch may mean going back to the test lab to re-evaluate copper connectivity. But maybe I am wrong about this.
BTW, I am with you on the power supply thing. Tweaking your whole system with multiple rails of the same design power supply gives better results than using a mixture of many different power supplies.
The Extreme has both copper and fiber ports, it has not been highly tweaked towards fiber, but being a dual CPU design you have some options on where to offload certain types of processing, this in turn can make network traffic packet handling less invasive to sound quality. Multiple separated "grounds" can indeed introduce a variety of issues.
 
Likes: nenon
Aug 28, 2019
24
9
5
Bavaria, Germany
Welcome to the forum nenon!
Yes I did, in the final version of the Extreme this was a sideways move, though in early versions a definite upgrade. Do note the JCAT Femto card provides the option to power it from an external power supply which again would give you a degree of voicing. However external powersupplies used this way are able to damage the Extreme beyond our control.
Could you elaborate a bit on how „external powersupplies used this way are able to damage the Extreme“?

Thanks
 

Taiko Audio

Industry Expert
Feb 10, 2017
1,297
1,505
210
The Netherlands
taikoaudio.com
Could you elaborate a bit on how „external powersupplies used this way are able to damage the Extreme“?

Thanks
Hi BaconBrain,

There is no way of knowing how those external power supplies handle power grid disturbances, like high frequency voltage transients, or how they handle static discharges. The Extreme power supply is protected from these events. Then the "grounds" can be at different potentials and there can be "ground" loops / leakages and interactions causing for example oscillations. Some of these events can be "slow killers", you will not notice anything strange straight away but a static discharge can significantly damage and/or reduce component life, where it will still be working at first but fail over time.
 

romaz

Well-Known Member
Oct 7, 2015
100
547
128
SGM Extreme - 2 week experience: Part I

I received my Extreme exactly 2 weeks ago and I thought I'd provide some personal observations and a few comparative assessments. As always, the following comments represent opinions based on my own personal sensitivities and biases and so, of course, YMMV. Because of the posting limitations imposed by WBF, this reporting will be divided into multiple parts.

As most of my components are black, when I first contemplated ordering an Extreme, I was of the mindset that I would want a black one but during my visit to Emile's factory in Hengelo, I found myself infatuated with the silver chassis. With the contrasting black heatsinks making up the sides of the chassis, I found the silver Extreme strikingly elegant and so I went with it. It turns out there are 2 varieties of silver available (brushed vs bead blasted) and while I could live with either one, as Emile told me the brushed one hid scratches better, I went with brushed (the one on the left):

brushed vs blasted.jpeg

Here is a photo of the internals of Extreme that I grabbed from Taiko Audio's website that many have seen. No commentary is necessary. Quite simply, it is a work of industrial art:

TaikoAudio_TOP-1024x768-2.jpg

Here is a photo of the internals of the SGM 2015. I will be kind and not show photos of the internals of servers from the Extreme's competition as they are really no better than this one:

sgm2015-interior.jpg

Here is a photo of my Extreme alongside my latest server build which is housed in a comparatively diminutive Streacom FC-9 Alpha chassis:

20200120_112214.jpg

As I have been doing with certain cherished components recently, I asked Emile if he could sign the chassis of my Extreme. Apparently, being the rock star that he is, he has been asked this before and rather than just signing my chassis, he had his signature laser engraved onto it and so as you can see, I have the SGM Extreme - Signature Edition :):

20200120_105139.jpg

To be continued...
 
Last edited:

romaz

Well-Known Member
Oct 7, 2015
100
547
128
SGM Extreme - 2 week experience: Part II

Many are aware of the numerous ventilation holes drilled on top of the Extreme that function as "waveguides" which, according to Emile, function also to shield EMI emissions (from both entering and leaving) by 81dB.

SGM Extreme waveguides.JPG

What I didn't realize is that there are nearly as many holes drilled onto the bottom of the Extreme. While it is not apparent to me whether these holes also function as EMI blocking "waveguides," this is some serious labor that has gone into just the Extreme's chassis:

thumbnail.jpeg

In the above photo, the integrated footers that you see are a hybrid design that sandwiches a block of German Panzerholz wood between a metal foot and the Extreme's chassis. The type of Panzerholz wood that Emile uses is the same type used in the soundboards of pianos and are favored for their ability to translate high frequency energy into a rich resonant sound. You can see this Panzerholz wood in the following photo:

20200120_105514.jpg

Panzerholz is further used quite strategically within the Extreme. Also note the extensive use of expensive copper which is known not only for its superior heat dissipating properties but also its more musically resonant qualities:

20200120_111020.jpg

Copper is used even in the standoffs. Further note how cleanly the DC cabling has been soldered onto the PCB. Not just the design but the quality of workmanship is incredibly meticulous.

20200120_111038.jpg

Flanking the dual row of Mundorf capacitors are a pair of Dueland capacitors ($1,000 each). Emile has stated that the Extreme represents his maximum effort which is to say that the parts used in the Extreme were carefully vetted through a combination of measurements and extensive listening tests and that no expense was spared in using the best available parts.

Dueland cap.jpeg

One of the advantages of being so heavily entrenched in DIY is that over time, you get a real sense of the SQ contribution of individual components. Over the years, I have tested various SSDs (SATA II vs SATA III, SLC vs MLC), storage transmission buses (SATA vs PCIe) and even SATA cables and have found that they each have a particular sonic signature that is audible. The fastest SSDs have the lowest latencies but also generate a high frequency noise that I find fatiguing with long term listening and cannot be completely ameliorated with SATA filters or by cleanly powering the SSD. Just because you power an SSD with a high quality linear power supply doesn't prevent that SSD from generating high frequency noise. This is apparently not noticeable by all given how commonly SSDs are used in music servers today but I have purposely avoided using an SSD as an OS drive (which is incessantly being accessed by the OS even during music playback) in any of my builds since late 2018. I have even gone so far as to use a compact flash as an OS drive but as these are very high latency storage devices, they create as many problems as they fix and proved to be a less than ideal solution. In late 2018, through the reporting of others, I began using Optane drives for the operating system and these drives have proven to be the ideal solution. Optane drives have very low "RAM like" latencies but also have a noise spectrum that is more like RAM than an SSD which is to say they do not cause the same fatiguing HF noise. It was quite refreshing to find that the Extreme uses an Optane drive for its OS.

20200120_110932.jpg

What is another dream come true to this DYIer is the Extreme's 6 PCIe slots. One is occupied by the Optane card and one is occupied by 8TB worth of storage for my music files. One slot is also occupied by the Startech SFP card which leaves 3 free slots. This means excellent future expansion capabilities without the need to use riser cables.

20200120_110954.jpg

Lastly, there is the OS. For years, there has been a contentious battle regarding which OS is best for audio playback: Windows vs MacOS vs Linux? MacOS is perhaps the most user friendly, Windows has the broadest compatibility, while proponents of Linux suggest that Windows and MacOS are too bloated whereas with Linux, you start with a minimalistic OS and add only what you need. Windows users have countered Linux through various tools like Audiophile Optimizer and Fidelizer Pro which are software designed to shut down unnecessary Windows processes. In its most extreme form, this meant using a specialized version of Windows designed for servers without a graphical interface that is not for the faint of heart. Having gone deep into this type of Windows, I got very good results but ultimately, I found my best SQ with a version of Linux called Euphony combined with their proprietary software player called Stylus and my last few builds have utilized Stylus over Roon. While I dearly missed the library management capabilities of Roon, I could never get it to sound as good as Stylus and so I have been using Stylus almost exclusively with my builds for the past 6 months.

Screen Shot 2020-02-03 at 10.49.26 PM.png

What is unique with Emile's version of Windows 10 is that he does not use Audiophile Optimizer or Fidelizer Pro. Instead of working hard to shut down unnecessary Windows processes, he instead modified the installation media to install only the subsets of Windows he wanted which is really the more elegant solution. While his version of Windows 10 is not as stripped down as it could be and includes Windows' graphical user interface, this is where having 20-cores over 2 CPUs come into play. Having the luxury of this much processing power and with the aid of Process Lasso and JPLAY allowed him to render the SQ penalties of both Windows and Roon moot. If you assess what's going on through Process Lasso, what you'll see during playback is that CPU load and queue depths spread across so many cores and so much RAM are basically nil. Rather than software waiting for the Extreme, more often than not, the Extreme is waiting for the software leading to a level of SQ that I will describe in a separate post. Here is a screen shot of the Extreme's graphical interface.

Screen Shot 2020-02-03 at 10.18.09 PM.png

This screen is probably familiar to all Windows users and is a joy to navigate compared to a command line. Without having to ever attach the Extreme to a monitor and keyboard, the Extreme has been designed so the user can easily remote into their Extreme via VNC using a PC, MAC, tablet, or smartphone. Of course, the Extreme was designed to be plug and play and so this is only necessary in order to make changes to the OS such as configuring network settings, downloading drivers, or launching or stopping a piece of software like HQPlayer. When necessary, TeamViewer has also been installed which allows Emile to remote into your server. For those who feel uncomfortable with tasks like updating drivers or installing a new piece of software like Spotify (as an example), Emile has said that he is willing to provide this service. Ultimately, that is the strength of Windows is that it is broadly compatible with much more software than Linux and even MacOS. It is also why Emile believes Windows inherently has the ability to sound better than Linux. With Linux, you are forced to use generic USB, network, and sound drivers whereas with Windows, you have many options leading to a greater level of control. Having tried various ASIO and Wasapi output driver options in Roon with my Extreme including from my DAC's manufacturer, I did find JPLAY to sound best of all although this does not happen by chance as Emile specifically optimizes JPLAY to run with your DAC once you receive it. Emile is even developing his own ASIO driver which makes sense as this would give him much more complete control of the playback process.

More to follow...
 
Aug 28, 2019
24
9
5
Bavaria, Germany
SGM Extreme - 2 week experience: Part II

More to follow...
Excellent stuff, really looking forward to the next post(s)!
 

romaz

Well-Known Member
Oct 7, 2015
100
547
128
SGM Extreme - 2 week experience: Part III

Listening tests:

Those who have read my post about my visit to Emile's workshop in Hengelo in November know that I was quite impressed by the Extreme when I first heard it, impressed enough that I went ahead with my order for my own Extreme. Of course, not having had the opportunity to directly A/B the Extreme against my own best effort, I had some doubts. Even some of my DIY friends wondered what I would do if the Extreme was only marginally better than my own server because how could "marginally better" ever be worth Extreme-level of dollars?

For those not familiar with my latest build, it is comprised of highly curated parts based on things I had learned from prior builds and centered around a 12-core/24-thread AMD Ryzen 3900X CPU, 8GB of Apacer ECC DDR4 memory, Optane memory for OS storage, and a JCAT Femto Network and JCAT Femto USB PCIe card with each card powered externally by my Paul Hynes SR7. Using what I considered to be an excellent 800w DC-ATX converter powered by an SR7 from a different Paul Hynes supply along with a specialized DC harness comprised of high purity OCC copper, this server had the advantage of being specifically tuned to my tastes with the aid of Euphony OS and Stylus and has been easily superior to anything I have previously had in my home for comparison including Aurender's latest W20SE. As a high power server, I would happily pit it against any low power server (that means just about all other commercial music servers out there today) and would feel confident that I would prefer it. Unlike some who purchased an Extreme because they were unhappy with the SQ from their Mac Mini or NUC, I was quite pleased with this server and often spent many hours into the night listening because of an already high level of engagement. My wife, who also enjoyed our listening sessions wondered aloud why I felt I needed an Extreme as she knew I had sold every other server I had previously purchased after I was able to build something better on my own. My only response was that I felt compelled "to be done." I had been building servers long enough to know that I could forever chase the next big CPU, motherboard, etc, that people were talking about and that this would lead to incremental improvements but despite my best efforts, at least on paper, I knew I could never match Emile's efforts. That's what I kept telling myself.

Because I had asked Emile for a few minor modifications and because of the Christmas holidays, it took a while longer to receive my Extreme and so by the time my Extreme arrived to me 2 weeks ago, it had already accumulated 600 hours of burn-in time according to Emile. For the first 7 days that I had my Extreme, I kept it powered almost 24/7 and ran it in stock configuration using the stock footers atop my Synergistic Research Tranquility Base, an Intona Ultimate USB cable, and HFC Pro power cord and so this 7-day period gave me a pretty solid idea of how a stock Extreme sounds using my reference ancillary gear that I was well acquainted with. Using the same power cord and USB cable on my server along with a quad of CS2 footers from Critical Mass Systems and using a different Tranquility Base as a foundation, I was able to fairly easily go back and forth. Both sighted and blind testing were performed but there really was no point to blind testing as the differences were so obvious, even to casual listeners who came by.

What I thought would take a few hours and possibly a few days to convincingly answer actually took only 30 seconds. The first thing I assess when I listen to a piece of equipment is not tonal quality or imaging or sound stage or dynamics but rather transient response. It is what I am most sensitive to based on the type of music I listen to the most and if it is not at least better than what I have already, then there's really no point going forward. The problem with transient response is that it is predicated on timing, speed and control but overly fast and overly damped presentations have a tendency to frequently sound thin and wiry and unnatural and so that isn't good transient response. Case in point, shortly after purchasing my Wilson Alexia 2s, I felt compelled to try every amplifier I could get my hands on and I had the good fortune of being able to audition Merrill Audio's latest Element 118 monoblocks, a $36k class D design based on gallium nitride transistors known for their incredible speed (in the gigahertz range). Indeed, these made any other amplifier I had previously heard sound slow and so I heard things with these amps that I had never previously heard. The problem with these amps is that the presentation was indeed thin and did not sound natural to my ears and performed just as badly as too slow of an amplifier.

This is where I know the Extreme's 20-cores come into play because the following are character traits of high power servers that I have consistently observed but never before to this extent. The Extreme's presentation is very very fast, almost gallium nitride fast. As Emile likes to say, it boogies. It is also very well controlled and very agile. It starts and stops and starts again like nothing else that I've heard resulting in unbelievable transient clarity. In comparison, transients on my server sound smeared. Because it is so fast and so well controlled, there is incredible separation, focus, and staging. Also, bass dynamics are startling good. With Stravinksy's "The Rite of Spring," I know exactly what will happen and when and yet, the Extreme has the capacity to frighten. But these traits are not what's most important None of these things would matter if the presentation were to sound thin and unnatural. Good transient response is as much predicated on naturalness as it is on the other qualities we normally think of and the Extreme pulls this off better than anything I have yet heard. Throw what you will at it, whether it be slow, sultry vocals or complex, large orchestral music and the Extreme maintains its effortless composure.

I was convinced that there was no way my best server effort would get embarrassed and in a way, it was not because ultimately, what sounds good sounds good but if I am to be honest, the Extreme is quite a big step better. I was given 10 days to give the Extreme a try and if I didn't like it, I knew I could return it. By now, as this marks 2 weeks of owning the Extreme, it's clear I've decided to keep it. The decision was actually quite easy and I knew it after the first 30-seconds. With respect to a music server, I am indeed done.

During week 2, I knew I needed to push the Extreme's boundaries. Could it be improved with different power cords, USB cables, footers, fuses, and JCAT cards? Could it be improved when used with a separate endpoint or when used as an endpoint? What about network switches and routers? We've heard Emile's take on some of these things and they contrast with @CKKeung's group and so obviously, we're not talking about improvements on an absolute level but rather improvements based on personal preference and so I'm happy to provide my own observations. To answer these questions will require a separate post and so more to follow...
 
Last edited:

spiritofmusic

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2013
11,009
2,007
433
E. England
Great report Roy. I'm not a streaming person, but even I can tell this is a landmark product.
 

Marcin_gps

Well-Known Member
Jun 24, 2015
90
39
50
jcat.eu
@romaz, great and very comprehensive report as usual! :)
 
Likes: vhs

Taiko Audio

Industry Expert
Feb 10, 2017
1,297
1,505
210
The Netherlands
taikoaudio.com
Thank you for this incredible in depth evaluation romaz, looking forward to reading your findings with the mentioned "accessories".
 

Blackmorec

Well-Known Member
Feb 1, 2019
268
326
63
67
Hey Romaz, excellent in-depth report...a most enjoyable read. Regarding switches and modems, i imagine that a user’s network environment could also have a major influence on the outcome of listening tests. There are so many different possible network configurations and types of environment and I’m sure each switch will have both optimum and sub-optimum installation conditions. About a month ago I changed a couple of DC power cables on a switch and RE650 wi-fi extender to some Neotech 7N JSSG360 cables from Ghent Audio and it made quite a radical change that I’m still waiting to fully stabilise. At the moment it still sounds a little OTT but out of that will probably emerge further improvement (i hope). The better my system gets, the more radical the effects of any changes to the upstream network. I imagine switches in other people’s systems work in exactly the same way.
 
Last edited:

howiebrou

Well-Known Member
Jun 29, 2012
1,198
926
210
SGM Extreme - 2 week experience: Part 1
In the above photo, the integrated footers that you see are a hybrid design that sandwiches a block of German Panzerholz wood between a metal foot and the Extreme's chassis. The type of Panzerholz wood that Emile uses is the same type used in the soundboards of pianos and are favored for their ability to translate high frequency energy into a rich resonant sound. You can see this Panzerholz wood in the following photo:

View attachment 61253


More to follow...
Does that mean that the stock footers should be used and not some third party ones coupling directly to the chassis?
 

Taiko Audio

Industry Expert
Feb 10, 2017
1,297
1,505
210
The Netherlands
taikoaudio.com
Does that mean that the stock footers should be used and not some third party ones coupling directly to the chassis?
Hi howiebrou,

The stock footers do a very good job providing repeatable performance across a wide range of surfaces, however depending on the surface / structural support you can get different results from using different footers. It is worth a trial playing around with this. Like with cables not everyone will like the same footer, and with a different surface you may prefer a different footer, even the footer location makes a difference.
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
Hi howiebrou,

The stock footers do a very good job providing repeatable performance across a wide range of surfaces, however depending on the surface / structural support you can get different results from using different footers. It is worth a trial playing around with this. Like with cables not everyone will like the same footer, and with a different surface you may prefer a different footer, even the footer location makes a difference.

I remember when you visited you commented that shifting the footer to the right increases warmth due to the copper shielding on the right whereas a shift to the left creates more detail due the aluminum in that side of the chassis. For me I positioned mine adjacent to the stock feet and am loving it
 
Likes: howiebrou

Taiko Audio

Industry Expert
Feb 10, 2017
1,297
1,505
210
The Netherlands
taikoaudio.com
I remember when you visited you commented that shifting the footer to the right increases warmth due to the copper shielding on the right whereas a shift to the left creates more detail due the aluminum in that side of the chassis. For me I positioned mine adjacent to the stock feet and am loving it
That is correct, also moving them inwards typically creates a more controlled / tenser /faster sound while outwards creates a more relaxed / weightier sound.
 

onlychild

Active Member
Sep 18, 2019
38
107
35
Great posts @romaz!!

This makes me even more excited to receive my Extreme, hopefully this month.

It will be replacing an Innuos Statement so I am eager to hear the difference between a low power server and a high power one.
 

Taiko Audio

Industry Expert
Feb 10, 2017
1,297
1,505
210
The Netherlands
taikoaudio.com
Great posts @romaz!!

This makes me even more excited to receive my Extreme, hopefully this month.

It will be replacing an Innuos Statement so I am eager to hear the difference between a low power server and a high power one.
It's going through its initial burn in right now :)
 
Likes: onlychild
Sep 9, 2018
49
40
23
SGM Extreme - 2 week experience: Part III

Listening tests:

Those who have read my post about my visit to Emile's workshop in Hengelo in November know that I was quite impressed by the Extreme when I first heard it, impressed enough that I went ahead with my order for my own Extreme. Of course, not having had the opportunity to directly A/B the Extreme against my own best effort, I had some doubts. Even some of my DIY friends wondered what I would do if the Extreme was only marginally better than my own server because how could "marginally better" ever be worth Extreme-level of dollars?

For those not familiar with my latest build, it is comprised of highly curated parts based on things I had learned from prior builds and centered around a 12-core/24-thread AMD Ryzen 3900X CPU, 8GB of Apacer ECC DDR4 memory, Optane memory for OS storage, and a JCAT Femto Network and JCAT Femto USB PCIe card with each card powered externally by my Paul Hynes SR7. Using what I considered to be an excellent 800w DC-ATX converter powered by an SR7 from a different Paul Hynes supply along with a specialized DC harness comprised of high purity OCC copper, this server had the advantage of being specifically tuned to my tastes with the aid of Euphony OS and Stylus and has been easily superior to anything I have previously had in my home for comparison including Aurender's latest W20SE. As a high power server, I would happily pit it against any low power server (that means just about all other commercial music servers out there today) and would feel confident that I would prefer it. Unlike some who purchased an Extreme because they were unhappy with the SQ from their Mac Mini or NUC, I was quite pleased with this server and often spent many hours into the night listening because of an already high level of engagement. My wife, who also enjoyed our listening sessions wondered aloud why I felt I needed an Extreme as she knew I had sold every other server I had previously purchased after I was able to build something better on my own. My only response was that I felt compelled "to be done." I had been building servers long enough to know that I could forever chase the next big CPU, motherboard, etc, that people were talking about and that this would lead to incremental improvements but despite my best efforts, at least on paper, I knew I could never match Emile's efforts. That's what I kept telling myself.

Because I had asked Emile for a few minor modifications and because of the Christmas holidays, it took a while longer to receive my Extreme and so by the time my Extreme arrived to me 2 weeks ago, it had already accumulated 600 hours of burn-in time according to Emile. For the first 7 days that I had my Extreme, I kept it powered almost 24/7 and ran it in stock configuration using the stock footers atop my Synergistic Research Tranquility Base, an Intona Ultimate USB cable, and HFC Pro power cord and so this 7-day period gave me a pretty solid idea of how a stock Extreme sounds using my reference ancillary gear that I was well acquainted with. Using the same power cord and USB cable on my server along with a quad of CS2 footers from Critical Mass Systems and using a different Tranquility Base as a foundation, I was able to fairly easily go back and forth. Both sighted and blind testing were performed but there really was no point to blind testing as the differences were so obvious, even to casual listeners who came by.

What I thought would take a few hours and possibly a few days to convincingly answer actually took only 30 seconds. The first thing I assess when I listen to a piece of equipment is not tonal quality or imaging or sound stage or dynamics but rather transient response. It is what I am most sensitive to based on the type of music I listen to the most and if it is not at least better than what I have already, then there's really no point going forward. The problem with transient response is that it is predicated on timing, speed and control but overly fast and overly damped presentations have a tendency to frequently sound thin and wiry and unnatural and so that isn't good transient response. Case in point, shortly after purchasing my Wilson Alexia 2s, I felt compelled to try every amplifier I could get my hands on and I had the good fortune of being able to audition Merrill Audio's latest Element 118 monoblocks, a $36k class D design based on gallium nitride transistors known for their incredible speed (in the gigahertz range). Indeed, these made any other amplifier I had previously heard sound slow and so I heard things with these amps that I had never previously heard. The problem with these amps is that the presentation was indeed thin and did not sound natural to my ears and performed just as badly as too slow of an amplifier.

This is where I know the Extreme's 20-cores come into play because the following are character traits of high power servers that I have consistently observed but never before to this extent. The Extreme's presentation is very very fast, almost gallium nitride fast. As Emile likes to say, it boogies. It is also very well controlled and very agile. It starts and stops and starts again like nothing else that I've heard resulting in unbelievable transient clarity. In comparison, transients on my server sound smeared. Because it is so fast and so well controlled, there is incredible separation, focus, and staging. Also, bass dynamics are startling good. With Stravinksy's "The Rite of Spring," I know exactly what will happen and when and yet, the Extreme has the capacity to frighten. But these traits are not what's most important None of these things would matter if the presentation were to sound thin and unnatural. Good transient response is as much predicated on naturalness as it is on the other qualities we normally think of and the Extreme pulls this off better than anything I have yet heard. Throw what you will at it, whether it be slow, sultry vocals or complex, large orchestral music and the Extreme maintains its effortless composure.

I was convinced that there was no way my best server effort would get embarrassed and in a way, it was not because ultimately, what sounds good sounds good but if I am to be honest, the Extreme is quite a big step better. I was given 10 days to give the Extreme a try and if I didn't like it, I knew I could return it. By now, as this marks 2 weeks of owning the Extreme, it's clear I've decided to keep it. The decision was actually quite easy and I knew it after the first 30-seconds. With respect to a music server, I am indeed done.

During week 2, I knew I needed to push the Extreme's boundaries. Could it be improved with different power cords, USB cables, footers, fuses, and JCAT cards? Could it be improved when used with a separate endpoint or when used as an endpoint? What about network switches and routers? We've heard Emile's take on some of these things and they contrast with @CKKeung's group and so obviously, we're not talking about improvements on an absolute level but rather improvements based on personal preference and so I'm happy to provide my own observations. To answer these questions will require a separate post and so more to follow...
Amazing and very clear report!
 

matthias

Active Member
Mar 14, 2019
229
72
28
Germany
Hi Emile,

maybe somewhat strange questions in the environment of Super-DACs, but anyway:

Would a pure USB-DAC (powered by the USB Vbus) take advantage of the superb power supply in the Extreme?
How much mA can the Extreme deliver to an USB-DAC?

I guess that the power supply of the Extreme is much better than the power supply of some self-powered DACs.

Thanks

Matt
 
Last edited:
Sep 23, 2014
78
44
70
Brisbane, Australia
I have over the weekend tried several different footers, I usually have the Extreme and the rest of my components sitting on top of HRS M3X2 bases and an HRS SXR stand (which is about to be upgraded to the VXR stand + same bases). The best initial results were by using the HRS Vortex footers however the sound took an overly bright presentation and so my final optimum setup was to remove the normal footers from the HRS M3X2 bases and replace them with solid footers that instead of providing more isolation the solid footers allowed any energy from the Extreme's chassis to be drained into pathways within the HRS stand and finally into the timber flooring (carpet covered).

This was a major find and I replaced the rubber footers on the MSB Select DAC and its dual power supplies with spikes as supplied by MSB, this extracted even more resolution and was confirmed by the hairs on my arms and neck standing on end as if to salute the extraordinary sound.

I have another major tweak that I am trying however it will be several weeks before I am able to comment on the validity of this.
 

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