EX vs S30 for Squeeze server/player setup


I have an EX that I love dearly, even though it is a classic EX with none of the upgrades - just some decent power and USB cables from Ansuz.

I noticed I could sell my EX and get an S30 for not so much more - how do these compare ? Does the S30 need an S60 to be better than the EX ?

I use the EX as server and player with squeeze.

Many thanks for your insights !


Hi @Kjetil ,
My comment extends slightly beyond your initial inquiry, but hopefully it will enable you to consider your EX within a broader context.

The S30 made its debut in 2020 following the launch of the EX in 2018, and the former player board should theoretically sound better (when compared without the power supply). However, this depends on the specific power supply you choose for the S30. With a top-tier power supply, the S30 will outperform the EX. However, once the EX is upgraded with the Oladra enhancement (better power supply, BIOS upgrade, board re-tune, memory upgrade) it should become the top performer.

Using either the EX or S30 as both player and server puts a considerable load on them. While they perform well independently, their true potential is unlocked when you use each one solely as a player in a dual setup with a dedicated server unit. As a suggestion, you might consider keeping the EX but look for a used CX at a reasonable price. Additionally, it’s important to note that the S30 has been discontinued without an upgrade path, whereas the EX model can still be G3 upgraded until possibly mid-2024.

In the following guesstimate lineup, higher is indicative of better sound quality. But you won’t be able to distinguish the differences unless you have an adequately resolving audio setup. Of course, my attempt to categorize is entirely subjective and rooted in what I’ve heard myself and learned here.

Higher ranking is indicative of better sound quality
(note that all devices are now discontinued but
K30 + EX + CX have the last -time limited- upgrade available for these models)

K30 with G4 OLADRA Upgrade

EX with G3 OLADRA Upgrade + CX with G3 OLADRA Upgrade

K30 G3 (HSL80.1 psu)

EX (original) + CX with G3 OLADRA Upgrade

S40 + S30 + S60 - G2 (HSL50.1 psu) or (S40 + S30 + S60 + S20 )

EX with G3 OLADRA Upgrade + CX (original)


EX with G3 OLADRA upgrade

S30 + S60 or S30 + excellent level PSU

EX or S30 + excellent level PSU

*Additional devices and alternative combinations, as well as further efforts to rearrange, would be greatly welcomed. *

Thank you Paul for all that insight.

I will forget about the S30 and perhaps look for an upgraded EX or even CX.

I do understand that you favour the two box solution a lot, whereas I have to admit that I like the idea of one box… Of course I appreciate that running both server and player for the poor EX is a lot of work but I was thinking that would be much more problematic for a Roon setup than for Squeeze that in my mind is a much lighter load. Is that just wrong ?

Since I have a Hegel H390 that also works as a Roon endpoint I guess I could try using the EX as a server only and the Hegel as player+DAC but I am not convinced about the result - at least I know for a fact that I prefer the squeeze sound on the EX over Roon. Maybe try the Roon setup with squeeze plugin but that should be more appropriate on a CX no doubt…

Anyways, very happy as I am :slight_smile:


Using Squeeze server and player on non-DSD material should not tax the EX CPU(s) , Have you noticed any problems when running in this way?

No problems whatsoever, including with DSD.

My idea was more that using Squeeze rather than Roon would somehow reduce the quality gap between EX and EX+CX…

Hey guys… I just picked up a CX to serve to my Dx player. I’ve only run Roon but I would love if someone could tell me how to install/set-up squeeze on my system. I would like to compare to Roon.
Thanks in advance for any help with this

Hi Ketjil, it was fun to do. I just edited again though. :wink:

Correct, squeeze to squeeze is much less demanding than Roon. Changing the EX for a CX would be great for running Roon. EX and CX do not sound the same.
I used a S30 as server playing to Ered dock endpoint each with their own psu and was pleased with it while the dac (AES or SPDIF) was the same price as a S30.

The most affordable one box solutions are:

  • EX or s30 with low power player board
  • CX or s40 with medium power server board. You can run Roon to Roon and probably when you upsample or run certain HQ player settings you ask a lot.
  • K30 with player and server board, plenty power to play what you like. A complete different ballgame though sound wise.

Likely CX to Hegel sounds quite better, CX being a server but I doubt you will like it, but EX and CX really do not sound the same. Still, it won’t change the colour of the endpoint. Hard to tell of course.
So when you say you like the EX, is that with Squeeze to Squeeze to the Hegel and its integrated DAC? Can and did you bypass the Hegel dac?

Did you upgrade both to AMSv5?

Then go to : https://antipodes.audio/
Solution page
Choose one of the many options

Thanks for your valuable insight.

I currently use the EX as Squeeze server and player connected to the Hegel DAC with an Ansuz A2 USB. That sounds great, much better than Roon in my ears.

I have never tried the EX analogue output if that is what you ask, I am quite confident about the H390 DAC section.

And I am surprised to read that a lone CX would work better than an EX with a pure squeeze setup outputting to the H390 DAC ?

I misunderstood, and thought you had a better way. Great like this! Dont use the RCA.

I’d be interested in incorporating the H390 into my setup, it must sound great, but I’m uncertain about its DAC capabilities or how it affects the sound quality. While this might not be what you’re asking about, it’s worth considering if it’s feasible to bypass the Hegel DAC and route the audio from the EX (or CX) through a separate DAC before connecting it to the Hegel solely for amplification (if possible). This setup could potentially yield a different sonic outcome.

You know this already but :

  • The CX and EX exhibit distinct sound characteristics, improving SQ when used as player- or server only.
  • The EX is less powerful compared to the CX, and when it’s tasked with dual functions, it has to work harder, which may prevent it from achieving its optimum sound quality.

In my setup, using the CX outperforms the EX in most aspects when playing squeeze to squeeze. However, when I connect CX to EX, I find that I get the best of both worlds and even more—like 1+1 equals 3. Antipodes offers players, servers, and hybrid solutions in a single box, and in my experience, utilizing them in their intended roles yields superior results.

Nonetheless, each ’one-box’ produces excellent sound quality and can do both player and server fonctions at the same time.

Of course, this is just my perspective, and using only part of the Hegel would be silly. Utilizing either the player or server function separately within the EX or CX will be beneficial.

My choice of the H390 was partly guided by a want for less boxes so I will definitely stick to its DAC that is very capable. I might switch the H390 for a H590 but I would still use the onboard DAC.

Now I am curious as to what a CX would sound like in a squeeze setup and if I see a bargain I will be tempted to seize the opportunity. Only problem is I can see where that leads - most certainly to an extra box :slight_smile:

I know, a K30 would solve that but it’s a different price point still…

I just wanted to mention that the original K30 was a heck of a bargain. Relative to a K50 G2, it gets the important stuff right and its sins are only sins of omission. I actually think it might be a greater leap from K50 G2 to K50 G4 than K30 G1 to K50 G2. I’ve yet to hear a K30 G4, but I expect it to be big leap as well.

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I have a K30 G4 and an EX. To my ears the G4 upgrade was worth the money, especially the usb upgrade. I use the server in the K30 to direct stream to my EX (not upgraded). This is where the EX shines. I had the EX as a standalone system for a couple years before moving to the K30. I found it good for a smaller roon library/player but the sound improved when going squeeze/squeeze or MPD.

Why do I have a player in the K30 and the EX? The K30 player goes through an mscaler for streaming and EX is fed upscaled pggb files.

I think if you can add a CX to the EX you will have a system that rivals a pre G4 upgraded K30.

The EX by itself is still a very good sounding system.


K30 Oladra (=G4) has been catapulted into a completely different league, rivaling some K50 versions. Lucky you @Progisus !

The K50 G2 - earlier mentioned in this thread - has superior V5.7H Server and V5.1X Player boards, but not better power.

Due to lesser quality power and inferior boards, the only possible advantage the original EX + CX have over K30 is the physical separation. Even though very beneficial, I doubt that is sufficient to be a rival.

However, the Oladra upgraded EX + CX will likely surpass an original K30. Maybe an original EX + CX Oladra will come close to a K30, but not sounding the same still.

It’s intriguing and sometimes confusing to try understand these differences and possible overlap in SQ. I don’t have anything against upgrades, as long as they’re within reasonable limits and serve a real audible purpose.

I invite you all to revise my guestimate where necessary. to rank by SQ. The link below was my initial reply to the OP, below a partial ranking also with technical details.

K30 Oladra :
Power supply (G4)
Server Mainboard V5.2H tweaked
Player Mainboard V5.1X tweaked
Upgraded USB (also better clamp mechanism)
Oladra isolation footers

EX Oladra and CX Oladra :
Power supply (G3)
Mainboard : V4X tweaked
Original USB
RAM if necessary

K30 :
Power supply HSL80.1 (G3)
Server Mainboard V5.2H
Player Mainboard V5.1X

EX and CX :
Power supply ODAPS2 (Gx?)
Mainboard : V4X

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Indeed, with an EX + CX setup, you’d have two half-size boxes totaling a width of 49 cm. Compared to the H390’s 43cm. 5 cm. / 2” extra width is quite minimal. It’s hardly noticeable. With the H390, you’ll undoubtedly be able to experience all the sonic goodness of the combo.

By reading around a bit I am kind of accepting that adding a CX would also benefit a Squeeze setup, even though it is a much lighter load on the system.

And now I see a CX for sale in my area so that’s tempting. However a friend of a friend is also selling a CX/EX combo with the Oladra upgrade for only 2000€ more than the CX alone…
But for that price I could also find a K30 std which has the benefit of the single box (one less Ansuz power cable to buy), maybe that’s what I should do ???

I think the K30 should be quite close to the CXEX Oladra setup for the same price and also be slightly younger?

Started with S30/S60 plus S20 reclocker which are a considerable improvement over EVO432 server/player I had prior.
Then I bought an EX and Mark recommended using EX as server and S30 as player.
Well, funnily enough after much to and fro, I do prefer the EX as server/player by quite a margin.
The sound seems to be a bit drier but more focused whereas with the S30 in the mix, there’s a certain sheen or haze around things.

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Hey, thanks for sharing.

Just a heads up, the choice of power supply can significantly impact the performance of the S30. Typically, using two separate boxes, each with its own power supply, tends to result in better sound quality, unless the power supply isn’t up to par.

Having said that, the S30 + S60 are more recent and different sounding versions. I wonder how you connect EX and S30, direct with an ethernet cable in between or through a switch?

Did you try use S30 + S60 as server and EX as player or exclusively EX as player / server with USB out to a DAC?

What about the S20 , do you use it with the EX to obtain these better results?


Have sold the S20 as I couldn’t hear much of a difference and preferred Matrix DDC(mostly use I2S into DAC).
S30 has the S60 power supply.
EX and S30 are connected via sotm Ethernet cable.
No, I actually used S30 as player and EX as server( as recommended by Mark) but will try the other way round…thanks for the tip.

My money is on the other way around - the EX as a player :slight_smile: