How much do server and player contribute to SQ?

hi, all other things being equal i am wondering how much the server and player components of an antipodes unit (oladra) contribute to SQ - is it 50/50? Or does the player - or server - play a more important role in terms of overall SQ

Good question. Perhaps it is easiest to describe what happens when you have one and not the other.

If you design the best board for the server job, and yet use it for both server and player roles, the sound will have exceptional detail, but the timbre of voices and instruments will be cool and mechanical. It may delight you with all the detail, but it won’t delight you by allowing you to simply forget the sound and enjoy the emotional pull of the music.

If you design the best board for the player job and yet use it for both server and player roles, then the timbre of voices and instruments will be natural and you will be easily emotionally engaged, but the level of detail and musical insight will be compromised.

And, of course, the ideal player device will not have the resources, or even capabilities (eg. AVX) to meet the demands of some DSP features, or some resource-hungry server apps when the library is large.

There are other ways of ‘skinning the cat’, too. Some of our competitors use a single board for both server and player tasks and then regenerate the signal to improve timbre.

The reason why we have stuck with separate server and player boards is that the available technologies for regeneration were unmusical, in our opinion. But this is changing. We are beginning to see ASIC technology emerge that performs the regeneration step well, but it still needs very careful design to stop it emasculating the sound.

Our first step in this direction was our new USB output board, which uses technology that has only recently become available, and that changes the landscape somewhat. Prior to this technology we felt the regenerators did more damage to the music than any benefits to the sound.

In another year or two we might find there is a new architecture that leads us to change our designs. Half the computer technology innovations we see make things better and the other half make things worse, when it comes to expressing music. But one thing is for sure - computer technology will continue to evolve at a rapid pace, and we have to keep an open mind rather than get stuck in any dogma.


thanks for the detailed answer.

however i have a bit of a challenge with my system - the answer to my issue seems to be to use my oladra only as a server - a roon server to be specific. i had been using squeeze as a player (in roon) but the challenge means i cant use the player part of the oladra - at least not optimally in the way i want my system to work. so while i understand the issues when using a single board to do the job of both player and server, my question really is - how much of the beautiful sound from the oladra should i expect to lose when only using it as a server i.e. not using the player at all? is it 50%? or more, or less?

The response from @antipodes was truly excellent, and I hope that more users will have the opportunity to discover it here. If you like this please read: Antipodes Music Servers/Streamers Articles Page

@tommytwotimes It sounds like you’re trying to optimize your audio setup using the Oladra as a server specifically for Roon, without utilizing its player capabilities. No judgement here, but it all depends what you are using as endpoint / DAC to improve on the Oladra player? To your ears that is of course.

While it’s difficult to provide an exact percentage of sound quality loss without knowing the specifics of your system and setup, in my experience with EX and CX the CX plays a much more important role in the total picture, impossible to express in % but since you asked; 73%.

Again, without knowing the specifics of your system and setup, would you be open to a solution that will allow you to use the Oladra as intended with server and player?

Thanks Paul.

I would love a solution! But to clarify, i am not trying to improve on the antipodes player, i very much doubt it’s possible to improve on that. Im trying to achieve convenience as i dont have a dedicated listening room but share my hifi setup with family in the tv room. I’ll try to explain further.

My speakers are dutch and dutch 8c actives (which i have no intention of changing). Unfortunately they only have one input - either AES digital or XLR analog.

I have multiple sources that i want to feed to my speakers - my music from the oladra, a turntable and my tv.

Up to now i have been going AES out of the oladra into the speakers - which is perfect for stored and streamed music and sounds fab. But no tv and no turntable. I could use a preamp to add the other sources but that would involve manually switching sources. Which to many won’t sound like a big deal but with many users and kids in the house and multiple physical controllers for roon, having to manually select between tv and music on any kind of intermediate device is not an option.

with just the oladra to AES on the 8cs i can press play on any roon controller and the result is instant and the music just plays - no switching necessary.

now the 8cs have a built in roon player endpoint, which work over ethernet and can take the music from the oladra server in that way. they also have a fantastic feature option where they automatically switch back to the xlr source when you stop roon playback. so if i connect my tv and turntable to the xlr, and use oladra as a server and give up the aes connection, i get what i want which is instant playback of tv or music on my speakers without any manual source switching required. the minute someone stops playback on roon (9 times out of 10 they are kicking me out in order to watch tv) nobody has to adjust any knobs or press any buttons - the tv audio automatically comes out of the speakers.

its certainly not ideal to give up the player part of the oladra, but i have searched and searched and cant find a high quality multiple source preamp with multiple analogs in to digital out that automatically switches inputs. i doubt one exists at this stage. unless i find a solution that ticks the convenience box im afraid my next step will be to trade the oladra in for an antipodes server only device.

So if you have a solution i’m all ears )

OK, got you :upside_down_face:. Food for thought. And I won’t inquire further, as I’m unaware of the specifics of your room layout and family dynamics :grinning:

The Dutch & Dutch speakers have caught my eye as a potential addition to my “you never know but maybe one day” list, unfortunately Oladra did not make it :cry:. One key takeaway for me is the importance of keeping my audio equipment separate from my children, especially the various physical controllers (for Roon). My plan would be to arrange a pair of dedicated, decent active speakers beside the TV, which could serve as a Roon endpoint for the whole family (such as the very small KEF LSX II + sub or LS50 II).

Hopefully, some of the readers here can offer further assistance.

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Thx Paul. For what its worth i have both the ls50ii and the lsx and my experience with kef and their products is far from positive.

Try to get an opportunity to hear them if you can. I finally had that chance last summer at the Pacific Audio Fest. Not for me but I can understand why so many like them. Tonality was excellent.

The active speakers that have impressed me on multiple occasions are those by Devialet. Not sure which models I’ve heard but I have heard them at two or three audio shows. Each time my reaction to hearing the price was “you must be kidding me” as they sounded far better than I had imagined possible for that kind of money. Very engaging and just fun. Not sure how the compare to KEF, but I think they are worthy of consideration.

@kennyb123 , appreciate the input! Where they run with the BACCH 3D Spatial Audio app? This seems essential as they do not stop improving and updating (rings a bell here!). I haven’t had the chance to experience the Dutch & Dutch firsthand yet. Did I mention I’m Dutch?

Regarding Devialet, must have been Phantom I 103 dB (Devialet) or Phantom I 108 dB (Devialet) both with Ethernet RJ-45 10/100/1000 Mbps (Gigabit) and wireless (Roon Ready) inputs up to 24bits/96kHz.


Convenience sometimes wins.

What I would say is, that trading the OLADRA for a K41 standalone, may be an option, but not one I would advise, you would be better off with the money already invested in our best server engine OLADRA, than taking a hit on selling it and re-investing in a K41 which doesn’t have as good a server engine.

There are clients out there in music server land, that use OLADRA as a server only, obviously, we recommend using it as designed.

OLADRA is the best Server engine we make.


I understand, I realize I’m a bit behind. Undoubtedly, there are plenty of other options available. I acknowledge that KEF speakers may not suit everyone’s preferences. It’s clear that you’ve explored alternative options, and it’s fantastic to hear that the Dutch & Dutch speakers were well-received by your family. They must have quite an ear for quality sound. You definitely have good taste!

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Is the K41 not a good server engine compared to the Oladra or just not a good server engine full stop?

I’m not Mark and can’t presume to answer for him, but the first part of your question has already been answered, and as for the second part, from the K41 information on the Antipodes website: “ The KALA 41 is a powerful Server-Only device, performing at the same level as the Server engine in the KALA 50.”

The K41 is the same server as in K50, it’s bloody good.
Is it as good as OLADRA…No.

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[quote=“antipodes, post:2, topic:2111”]
allowing you to simply forget the sound and enjoy the emotional pull of the music.
[/quote] …for me job thoroughly done when this magic happens…and fwiw i am my own worst enemy when it comes to letting/projecting my anxieties on more mundane technical matters/comp,exities rob my experience of this magic. As my own magic happens more emotionally than cerebrally (the latter also being a valid human experience…musically…) your beautiful quote reminds me of where my North Star is. That you design for this also validates the considerable investments i have made in your products along the way.

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