Hardware Modules; what board is inside your K or S series?


I greatly appreciate your openeness regarding new products and what is in the box. Antipodes makes an important difference here compared to other brands. I understand now that (even within a specific model) there can be differences in chosen e.g. player or server modules.
Due to new market dynamics AND production strategy (thank you for the insight as well, very nice read * see link below) every manufacturer has no choice turning this challenge into opportunities. You state we can trust Antipodes design and R&D efforts will be ahead of developments when and where possible.

So, I have been reading through many technical details to help me decide for the right hardware modules in my next device, there is always better of course. Ther are still a few unanswered questions regarding the different modules used.

Being owner of a humble S30 (teamed up with Ferrum Hypsos PSU, what a joy!) I have an upgrade path to choose. My questions :

  1. Could you please explain the difference between hardware module player board V5.1X vs V5.1?
  2. Same for V5.7H server board if there are different versions in older models?
  3. And while at it, did the R2i reclocker board stay the same?
  4. I read that the new HSL80 PSU possibly has different dimensions, did the HSL 80 and the HSL 50 PSU’s change in the recent K&S 2022 generation?
  5. Did by any chance the USB output from the player board technically change in the K 2022 series? Or Oladra at least? Or, does Antipodes have plans to improve USB out?

I apologise, this list is getting longer while writing, I have to stop here.

Thanks for letting us now,


If the hardware has a different designation number, then the difference between them, in nearly all cases is ‘everything’. That is, the base board we used before the customisation completed for us by the original manufacturer, and the customisation we do, is a completely different board. This is not the case every time. Sometimes the change is only in the version of the board, where that change makes a very significant change to the sound quality.

A change log would be meaningless, unless that log said ‘everything’ in most of the lines.

We have a deliberate policy of not talking tech details because we see no value for a buyer in trying to discern what must be best based on a list of specs. We will make no apologies about that either. Live by that sword and you die by that sword and you get pushed, like so many DAC manufacturers have been, into changing their products just so that they can add the next tech acronym into their blurb. We will live or die by our sound quality and side-step that bollocks.

We will talk about tech insights, and we do. But not meaningless tech detail. If you really think pouring over the tech detail will tell you which sounds best then fill your boots but we won’t participate in that.

As far as our designations are concerned, they are there to say that something has changed significantly. Bigger numbers mean later/better, H means high power optimised for Server apps, and X means medium power optimised for Player apps. And please read that last sentence carefully. It does not mean you should contemplate using an X for running just the server app (using an undemanding app) and another for the player app . This misunderstands three things.

All server apps require high power to perform the server function, irrespective of the server app used.
This will sound terrible due to intermodulation effects. A single X will sound better.
We do mean it when we say the modules are optimised for a task.
The R2i reclocker is indeed still the R2i reclocker.

The changes we made to the revised K50 involved new power supplies, new player board (looking at it you might not think so, but it is very different). But it drives me nuts that people think this is a computer and it is just parts that change. The parts changes in the revised K50 means that everything about the customisation and optimisation had to be re-done. This iS by far the biggest influencer of how Antipodes music servers sound.

Of course the USB changed - the Player board changed, and it has also changed in the Oladra.

It would be useful to check out the archetecture page Solution Architecture - antipodes to properly understand USB versus Digital Outputs. If you choose to use USB then your DAC had better have a very good reclocker (after the USB input, not before it), and many don’t. Instead they typically rely on the much cheaper asynchronous oversampling or conversion to DSD, which is more of a trade-off than it is an improvement.

Hi Mark,

My simple question became a vast question because there are so many parts involved. So I got a vast answer, great!

The reason I became very interested in Antipodes about six months ago is exactly because I read the Solution Architecture - antipodes pages and a very well written and extensive HFA review by Christiaan Punter. There is so much common sense in there; how devices in the chain interact. Also it opened my eyes more to using specific outputs for different purposes and different devices.

Since then being owner of a S30 with ‘only’ a V5.1 player board makes me wonder what V5.1X would bring? As you explained, I am also aware that in my setup it is rather useless to use S30 as server/player because it is not build for that, even though it can emulate this combination. I prefer using a server that connects over ethernet to the S30 player that connects only :frowning: over USB out to DAC.

I do not think my questioning regarding boards has to do with seeing this as just parts. Besides, users have not only to consider the (Antipodes) component but in the whole audio chain there are upstream the modem, a router, a switch before the server/player or separates and downstream the dac, reclocker, preamp/amp, active/passive speakers and I did not mention all the cabling and isolation devices and last but not least the (linear) power supplies for each component (oops, did not to mention room acoustics).

How not to see each Antipodes device as a component built with parts? By focusing on the synergy between ALL these components when sound can be brought to a new level that a single component could never achieve. I do understand your point of view when you mention users misunderstand. But not everyone needs or wants to understand to be happy with the sound quality.

With this synergy view in mind, in my case S30 is still ‘only’ a V5.1 player board compared to the synergy Antipodes can achieve in for example a K50 (which by the way has V5.1x if I am not mistaken).

I have to make up my mind for my next step with Antipodes in my chain by reading and listening and you answered my question regarding the new 2022 series:

1)player improved to V5.1X
2)server board unchanged
3)reclocker R2i unchanged
4)HSL 50 and HSL 80 changed
5)USB output changed
Take note parts might have been changed with possible 1+1 =3 effect.

Thanks, I very much appreciate your time.

If you have a S30 the next logical step would be to add an S40, or a S60 or both.
Or go K41 with S30 as Player, with a view to a K21 or K22 down the track to bring to K50 status.

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My favourite quote of the year to date.


How much improvement is there between the K50 and the K50 revived? Small , large or around the same —- First time hearing about it today on someone doing a resale on audiogon — Just curious -

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Maybe you like to read What’s Best Audio Forum every now and then on the pages about Antipodes user experiences. It starts around p. 24 about the revived K50. In choosing the latest K50 vs. the previous I would consider exactly what output you will use to your DAC and if that one specifically did become better (to your liking and setup) to justify the extra cost (since you mentioned you found a used K50).

The two versions of K50 can be physically distinguished by the Re-Clocker.
Latest version has I2S over both RJ45 and HDMI.
This version has a OCXO clock vs a FEMTO clock.
The internals have been re-designed to accommodate the new Re-Clocker board, with tweaks to the power supply.
While you would say the later version sounds better, the leep isnt significant in my opinion.

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But after reading this (see quote below) one would sort of expect a more significant leap for the revised K50? At the same time I must admit after reading Christiaan Punters ‘‘original K50’’ review ( Update Nov 2021) what more improvement someone can ask for after the original K50? :slight_smile:

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How do you find out which version of K50 you have?
From which serial number was the new version issued?

A simple way is that if your K50 has an optical output then you have the newer one. If it doesn’t then you have the earlier version.

Having owned both I would say not to get too hung up on this. The difference is not very great in my opinion (and the optical is not best sounding into my DAC anyway, an Mscaler /Dave)


When comparing different versions of K50, to me it seems more important how you use the K50 in your set-up. The following quotes hopefully give some insight :

Revised K50

It took 6 months of re-development of the K50 to be able to continue to supply it. We improved the power supply design (which is the most important part of any music server). We now use a better and much more expensive clock chip in the K50, as the old one became very difficult to get. We had to completely design a new Player board because the chipset was abruptly withdrawn by Intel. The overall sound is similar, so we have not made any public statements about these changes. (Hifi-Advice)

Stereophile Sep 29, 2021

Ranking outputs in order of sound quality, Jenkins greatly prefers the K50’s I2S, AES3 (aka AES/EBU), and S/PDIF digital outputs to USB.’’ “You really don’t want to use USB.”
‘‘the K50 sounds best playing from an SSD’’
‘‘If you’re used to Roon, that’s a good place to start. But [every server/player] combination sounds different, and preferences can change as the different software changes.’’
‘‘Squeeze and Squeezelite ruled on the K50’’

Hifi-Advice November 2021

If you want the absolute maximum in tightness, articulation, transparency and purity then MPD is the way to go. But that does mean that Roon cannot be used’’.

Switching back to the AES/EBU connection reaffirms its prime position.
I found that the K50 provided even better sound via I²S than via AES/EBU (HA-August 2021)

Good to know:

  • When possible use the K50 clock as a master to your DAC (revised K50 has the best clock)
  • It takes a K50 about 2-3 months to burn in properly.
  • Make sure you updated the firmware from V3.0 to V3.1 (only older K50?)
  • Quality of the connection is extremely dependent on the implementation of the interface on both ends, as well as on the cable.

May I ask why you had 2 K50 's?

IIRC, he picked up the second as it matched the color of the rest of his components. He sold then sold the first one.


Oxco clock vs femto clock … phase noise and jitters ! :heart_eyes::heart_eyes: